Answering Common Questions About Negligence and Injuries Sustained in Florida

Come get your personal injury and accident questions answered on topics including motorcycle accidents, automobile accidents, disability insurance, and workers’ compensation matters. We handle cases throughout Florida concentrating on the greater Central and North Florida area, and we have the in-depth answers you need.

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  • If I'm eligible for SSDI benefits, are my family members also qualified?

    Family Medicare benefitsIt's possible. Under Social Security Administration (SSA) rules, your dependents may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits as long as you and they remain eligible. These benefits are often referred to as dependents’ or auxiliary benefits.

    Applying for them can significantly increase your household income and help pay monthly expenses.

    Family Members and SSDI Benefits

    Family members could receive a percentage of your SSDI benefits. This won't reduce the amount of monthly benefits you receive. Family members who may be eligible include:

    • Spouse. A spouse caring for your minor child may be entitled to benefits at any age. If he or she isn't caring for a minor but is at least age 62, there's a possibility of benefit eligibility based on your earnings record. However, there's an early retirement penalty for obtaining benefits before full retirement age. In addition, if he or she qualifies for higher benefits individually, that may negate access to your funds.
    • Ex-spouse. If you were married to your ex-spouse for 10 years or more, this person may qualify for benefits on your record if he or she is 62 or older and unmarried. Your current marital status won't affect your ex's eligibility, and payments to him or her won't reduce your allotment. As with an existing spouse, if your ex would receive higher benefits on an individual record, this makes him or her ineligible for family benefits.
    • Children. If you qualify for SSDI benefits, your biological or adopted child, stepchild, or dependent grandchild may qualify for a portion of your benefits. The child must be unmarried and under 18, or between 18 and 19 and a full-time student in a grade no higher than 12th. If a child is 18 or older with a disability, he or she may also qualify for benefits if the condition started before age 22.

    There's a maximum amount of family benefits your loved ones can receive. Determining this allotment can be complicated. Our experienced Social Security attorneys are available to answer your questions and help evaluate the potential for financial care. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today.

     

  • Am I entitled to Medicare While Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

    Possibly, but there's a waiting period before you're eligible. This is usually two years after the date of your entitlement to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

    Here’s how this can work:

    • If your application for disability is approved, there's a five-month waiting period before you would be eligible for SSDI benefits. The date you qualify for payments is your entitlement date, and the two-year waiting period for Medicare starts from that date.
    • If you must appeal a denial of your application and win, a determination will be made as to the date of your entitlement to SSDI benefits, which may be retroactive. You would become eligible for Medicare two years after this date of entitlement.

    What Medicare Benefits Can You Receive? Receiving medicare and SSDI

    Medicare is broken down into four parts: A, B, C, and D. Once you receive SSDI benefits and become eligible for Medicare, you're automatically enrolled in Medicare, but may have to pay for portions of your coverage.

    Here's what each part covers and the cost to you:

    • Part A. Part A pays for hospital expenses and some medical and hospice costs. You shouldn't have to pay premiums for this coverage.
    • Part B. This pays for doctor appointments and medical services and supplies not covered under Part A. You'll most likely be required to pay a premium for Medicare Part B. You have the right to opt out of coverage. However, if you later change your mind, it will cost you more to enroll.
    • Part C. Plan C is insurance policies offered by private companies approved by Medicare. They're often referred to as Medicare Advantage plans. You would need to pay premiums for Plan C.
    • Part D. Medicare Part D pays your prescription costs, and you would owe a premium for this coverage. Like Part B, you'll pay higher costs if you don't enroll in Part D when you become eligible for Medicare.

    Do you have other questions regarding your SSDI claim? Call our office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Social Security lawyers today.

     

  • What's substantial gainful activity and how is it calculated?

    How SGA impacts SSDIWhen you file an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must meet eligibility requirements. One of the first things that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at when reviewing your application is whether or not you're working. If you're employed, you must not be engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA) in order to receive benefits.

    What Is Substantial Gainful Activity?

    Substantial gainful activity is work that pays you a certain amount of money per month. If this is the case in your situation, the SSA may deny your claim for SSDI.

    The SGA amount is set yearly, and changes based on fluctuations in the national average wage index. Here are the amounts for 2019:

    • The amount for statutorily blind individuals is $2,040.
    • The amount for non-blind individuals is $1,220.

    The amount of SGA is different for individuals who are blind and those who are not blind.

    Even if you make less than the monthly SGA, this doesn't mean you're determined to be unable to engage in employment. The SSA looks at the circumstances of your employment and why you're making low wages. For example, if you're a substitute teacher or bus driver and are only not employed full time due to the lack of work, you could be found to be engaged in SGA. In addition, if you're only working on a limited basis but volunteering on a regular basis, this may be considered substantial gainful activity. However, attending school doesn't make you ineligible for SSDI.

    Can You Stop Working?

    If you stop working after applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you'll need to show that your medical condition worsened enough so you were unable to work in order to meet the SGA requirements. The SSA makes a determination as to whether this was an unsuccessful attempt at working. In general, if you were only employed six months or less and had to quit or reduce your hours because of your disability, this time period won't be considered substantial gainful activity.

    Do you have other questions about your eligibility for disability benefits? Call our office or fill out the form on this page to schedule a free initial consultation with our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys.

     

  • Why are injuries on construction sites underreported?

    Why construction workers don't report workplace accidentsConstruction workers face many workplace dangers that can cause them to suffer serious injuries or death. According to U.S. Department of Labor, 991 of these workers were killed in 2016—21 percent of all workplace fatalities. Falls, electrocutions, being caught between heavy equipment, and overexertion are just some of the reasons that individuals are hurt or killed at construction sites.

    While injured employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, many fail to report their accidents.

    Reasons Construction Workers Fear Reporting Workplace Injuries

    In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, a workplace accident must be reported to an employer within a specific time limit set under state laws. In Florida, the deadline for reporting an injury suffered on the job is 30 days of the date of the accident.

    When construction workers don't report their injuries, they're ineligible to receive the workers’ compensation benefits they may be entitled to. In 2013, The Center for Construction Workers and Training (CPWR) conducted a survey of 614 workers to determine why so many individuals in construction fail to report their injuries. More than a quarter of the respondents admitted they failed to report at least one work-related injury during their career.

    Some of the reasons include:

    • They considered pain to be a part of their job.
    • They couldn't afford to take time off work for doctor appointments.
    • They feared retaliation, such as not being hired by their employer in the future.
    • They wanted to remain eligible for safety-related prizes.
    • They didn't want to be perceived as weak or a complainer by other construction workers or their supervisor.
    • They found the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim and providing needed paperwork to be confusing and too much effort.

     

    If you're a construction worker and suffered an injury at your job, you don't want to lose the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve and need. While the process can seem overwhelming, sorting out the intricacies of the workers’ comp system and preparing claims so people injured on the job recover benefits is what our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Johnson & Gilbert, P.A., have been doing for Volusia County clients for more than 15 years. Let us help you too. Call our office to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • What steps should I take after a workplace injury?

    steps to take after a workplace injury for workers' compensationAfter being injured in a workplace accident, you're most likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay medical bills and lost wages, as well as possible permanent disability benefits under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws.

    However, it can be confusing to know what to do, especially when you're ill and worried about recovery. We'll explain the important first steps you need to take to protect your right to workers’ compensation benefits.

    Five Steps to Take After Your Workplace Injury

    Under Florida law, you are required to take certain actions within set deadlines in order to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Here are critical steps that must be followed:

    1. Report the injury to your employer. Do this as soon as possible after your accident. You're required to notify your supervisor or manager within 30 days of your accident or from the first signs of an occupational illness. If you fail to do this, you may not be eligible for benefits.
    2. Fill out a workplace injury report. Employers are obliged to keep workplace injury reports available for employees by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. When you’ve been injured, demand to fill out the report, even when your employer says it's not necessary, and get a copy for your records.
    3. Seek medical care. You need to immediately get medical treatment for your injuries, no matter how minor you initially believe they are. This ensures you receive proper medical care, and these records can protect you if there are disputes with your employer’s insurance company about whether your injuries were really work-related.
    4. File a claim. You should submit your claim for workers’ compensation benefits with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation as soon as possible after your accident. You must file a claim within two years of your injury or illness in order to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
    5. Retain an attorney. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through the complexities of filing your claim and ensure you receive all the benefits you're entitled to under Florida law. Hire legal counsel soon after you sustain injuries to protect your rights.

     

    For more than 20 years, we've helped people like you secure their rightful workers’ compensation benefits. Find out how our experience can help you by calling our office and scheduling your free consultation today.

     

  • What are the federal guidelines regarding commercial truck underride guards?

    While all truck accidents can be serious, an underride truck accident is particularly catastrophic. This happens when a smaller passenger vehicle is trapped underneath the truck’s trailer in a side impact or rear-end collision. The windshield of the auto can be shorn off and the vehicle crushed by the much heavier truck trailer.Victims can suffer tragic injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, paralysis, amputation, and decapitation.

    Fortunately, new legislation is being proposed to increase the requirements regarding big rig underride guards.

    Current Regulations Regarding Commercial Truck Underride Guards

    underride_guardTo reduce the dangers of underride truck accidents, the National Highway Safety Administration implemented federal regulations in 1996 requiring underride guards to be installed on many commercial trucks.

    These guards attach to the back of the truck’s trailer to prevent a passenger vehicle from sliding underneath in a rear-end collision.


    In 1998, the regulations for underride guards were strengthened, and all commercial trucks with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds after January 26, 1998 were to follow the mandatory guidelines. These regulations increased the number of trucks required to install underride guards and set specific requirements for the height, weight, and strength of the guards.

    New Federal Law Proposed to Strengthen Underride Guard Requirements

    Not all truck underride accidents are rear-end collisions. A passenger vehicle can be trapped under the truck’s trailer in a side impact crash, and it can also become lodged under the truck in a in an override accident. To prevent these deadly wrecks, The Stop Underride Act of 2017 was introduced in Congress. One of the bill’s sponsors is Senator Marco Rubio from Florida.

    The law would apply to commercial trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more require the following:

    • Strengthened rear underride truck guards
    • Installation of additional underride guards on the sides and front of commercial trucks
    • Development of side and rear guards, tested to prevent a passenger vehicle traveling at 35 mph from sliding under a truck’s trailer
    • Periodic inspection of underride guards, with a mandate that a truck is placed out-of-service if guards need replacement or repair

    Were you injured in an underride or other truck accident? You could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn about our extensive experience handling these cases and how we can help you.

     

  • Will my family be allowed to collect my Social Security benefits after I die?

    budgetIf your family depends on you financially, you may be concerned about how your loved ones will survive when you pass away. The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows families of workers to collect survivors' benefits, a monthly payment that helps ease financial burden.

    However, a worker must have paid enough in Social Security taxes during his or her lifetime for the family to be eligible.

    Who Can Get Social Security Survivors Benefits?

    Spouses and families of Social Security claimants may be eligible for two different kinds of benefits after a worker passes away. A one-time lump sum death payment of $255 is available
    to spouses or children who apply for payment within two years
    of the family member’s death.

    In addition, family members can collect survivor’s benefits, or a portion of the amount the deceased worker would have gotten at his or her full retirement age.

    Family members who qualify for survivors benefits include:

    • A spouse. Widows and widowers may be entitled to your Social Security benefits if they're 60 or older, or 50 or older if they're disabled. A spouse may be eligible regardless of age if he or she is caring for your disabled child under the age of 16.
    • A divorced spouse. A divorced widow or widower can be eligible for your benefits if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. The rules and age limits for surviving divorced spouses are the same as those for current spouses.
    • Children. Unmarried children who are under 18, or those are between the ages of 18 and 19 and enrolled full-time in a secondary school, could be eligible to receive your benefits. Additionally, benefits may be paid to a disabled child older than 18 who became disabled before the age of 22.
    • Other dependents. In some cases, step-children, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and adopted children are entitled to receive your Social Security benefits. Parents over the age of 62 who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their income could also be eligible.

    You should be aware that if your spouse works, gets remarried, or is eligible for his or her own retirement benefits, this can affect eligibility for your Social Security survivor benefits. If you have more questions about your Social Security insurance or want help with a claim, contact the lawyers of Johnson & Gilbert today.

     

  • How does my work history affect my Social Security disability insurance?

    calendar_pageThe Social Security program pays disability as a form of insurance: you pay into it with each paycheck, and you can make a claim if you paid into the fund for a long enough period of time.

    To determine whether you qualify for the disability benefits program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers your physical condition, your work history, and your date last insured (DLI).

    How Your Last Insured Date Affects a Social Security Disability Claim

    The easiest way to think of a DLI is the last day you're eligible for disability benefits. Like any other form of insurance, your coverage has an expiration date.

    Your DLI affects many aspects of a Social Security disability benefit claim, including:

    • Technical eligibility. To technically qualify for the disability program, you must have worked the past five out of 10 years and worked 20 of the last 40 quarters in jobs that paid Social Security taxes. Both of these measurements can affect your DLI.
    • Medical eligibility. Not only do you need to have an approved disability to medically qualify for Social Security disability, but you must also be able to prove that you became disabled prior to your DLI.
    • Likelihood of approval. If your disability occurs before this date, you'll likely be eligible for benefits. If the date expired, the SSA will probably deny the application unless you're able to show why you didn't complete an application sooner. In many cases, claimants need the help of an attorney to make a case to SSA after their DLI has expired.

    The amount of your disability payments varies widely, so it pays to consult an attorney who might maximize your compensation. Our attorneys can explain your options in your free consultation, and we don't collect any legal fees unless we win your case.

    Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our Social Security attorneys at no cost to you.

     

  • What percent of my wages will I get if I am out on workers' comp?

    paycheckThe workers’ compensation system was created to allow employees to recover from their injuries without worrying about how they will pay their bills while they're out of work.

    However, employers and insurers will want you to go back to your job as soon as possible, so the amount you can receive in lost wages from workers’ compensation is limited.

    Florida Workers’ Compensation is Paid as a Portion of Your Wages

    Under Florida workers' compensation laws, how much you'll receive while you're out of work depends on the degree of your disability and how much you earn. 

    Most employees receive temporary total disability benefits following an injury, since they are completely unable to work after an accident. Temporary disability benefits are paid until you reach maximum medical improvement or for 104 weeks, whichever comes first.

    The amount you receive in lost income depends on whether you're classified as having:

    • Temporary Total Disability (TTD). These benefits are paid at two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW). The calculation for the AWW is based on 13 weeks of an employee’s earnings prior to the injury, including overtime, bonuses, and other benefits, such as health insurance. If the worker suffered a severe injury, such as blindness or paralysis, he or she may receive up to 80 percent of his or her regular wages for the first six months.

      There's a maximum amount set for TTD each year—for example, the maximum benefit is $917 per week in 2018.
    • Temporary Partial Disability (TPD). If your doctor declared that you can return to work, but you cannot perform the duties you used to, you may be entitled to receive 64 percent of your AWW in partial disability benefits. These benefits are paid if you're only able to earn a portion of your previous wages. These benefits are paid at 80 percent of the difference between 80 percent of your previous wages and your current wages.

      For instance, let’s say you earned $2,000 before your injury, but now are only able to do part time, earning only $1,000. Workers’ compensation takes 80 percent of $2,000—which is $1,600—and subtracts your current wages, which are $1,000, to get $600. You would be paid 80 percent of $600 in TPD benefits, which is $480.

    Once you've recovered from your immediate injuries, your doctor must evaluate whether your injury could have resulted in permanent disability. If you're permanently disabled, you may be able to receive workers’ compensation payments for life.

    To find out more, order our free book, It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Workers’ Comp, or fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule your no-cost consultation with our work injury attorneys.

     

  • Should I file a workers' compensation claim even if my employer offered to pay my medical bills?

    employer_giving_checkAbsolutely. Workers' compensation insurance was created to pay for lost income and medical care after a workplace accident. 

    However, there's been a rise in cases from injured employees who didn't file for workers' compensation because their employers talked them out of making a claim.
     

    Why You Should Always File a Workers' Compensation Claim for a Work Injury

    There are many reasons employers would prefer that an employee not file a workers' compensation claim, such as increased insurance premiums, or the ability to discredit an employee at some point in the future. Even if an employer threatens to fire an employee, Florida laws prevent employers from retaliating against workers for filing workers' compensation claims. 

    We've represented literally thousands of injured workers at Johnson & Gilbert, P. A., and we know that it's almost always a mistake to agree to have an employer cover medical expenses outside of the workers' compensation system. Here are a few things that often happen when an employee fails to file a workers' compensation claim for a work injury:

    Private health insurance provided by the employer stops paying medical bills.

    Private health insurers aren't obligated to pay for injuries sustained on the job. If your insurance company discovers you've made claims for work-related injuries, it will stop paying for your appointments and treatment—and likely demand that you reimburse the company for any amount it paid to treat your work injury. Although the coverage is provided “through” the employer, the insurance company will demand payment from you, not the company you work for.

    On the other hand, if you file for workers’ compensation, you'll have all of these appointments paid for and likely not have any co-payments for your treatment.

    Employers suddenly refuse to pay out-of-pocket when treatment gets expensive.

    An employer that promises to pay medical expenses for an employee may suddenly forget that promise when the employee needs surgery, diagnostic studies, or other costly treatments. In some cases, employers encourage (or require) employees to tell a doctor or hospital the injury didn't occur at work, ruining the employee’s credibility when he or she ends up filing a workers' compensation case later.

    Employees are unable to pay bills because they're unable to work.

    Unlike employer-sponsored healthcare, workers' compensation also pays a portion of lost wages to employees while they're off work treating their injuries. These payments allow the workers’ income to continue all the way through recovery.

    The bottom line is this: if you're injured on the job, don't hesitate to file a workers' compensation claim. For more information, order our free book, It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Workers’ Comp, or fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule your no-cost consultation with our work injury attorneys.