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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  • 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.

     

  • Can I get Social Security disability and workers' compensation at the same time?

    going_over_paperworkdYes, but not exactly how you might think. While many people who are injured at work will be able to reenter the workforce in a short time, some will suffer temporary or even lifelong disability.

    Employees who claim Florida workers’ compensation usually apply for Social Security disability benefits when they discover their injuries are permanent.

    However, there just because you apply for both forms of compensation doesn't mean you'll be “doubling” your benefits.

    Problems with Getting Both Social Security Disability and Workers' Comp

    There are many areas of overlap in these two major benefit programs.

    Workers’ compensation is issued by Florida state law to give temporary wage loss and medical benefits to injured employees.

    Social Security disability insurance is a federal program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides payment to workers whose conditions prevent them from earning a sustainable living.

    Although it's possible to collect multiple forms of benefits at the same time, the total amount you receive may be reduced due to:

    • State laws. Unlike some other states, Florida workers' compensation laws prohibit injured workers from collecting temporary total disability or permanent total disability for any weeks where the claimant received re-employment assistance or unemployment benefits.
    • Offsets. Florida law actually requires all permanent total disability claimants to apply for Social Security disability. If you're approved, the insurer who provides your workers' compensation insurance will likely reduce its payments. This places the burden of the employee’s injury on the state rather than a private insurer. This offset ends when the employee’s workers’ compensation payments end or when the employee reaches full retirement age.
    • Settlements. If you secure a lump-sum settlement for your workers’ compensation claim, the amount you're given is still subject to offsets. Since there are limits on the amount of total public disability benefits you may receive, the SSA considers the amount of your settlement when calculating your disability benefits. It also reduces your disability payment if you're receiving other forms of benefits, such as civil service disability or government-issued disability or retirement.

    The amount of income you receive each month varies widely depending on the type of benefits you collect. It's important to consult an attorney who can maximize your compensation. 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 is comprehensive auto insurance and why do I need it?

    car_insuranceFlorida requires all drivers to have a minimum amount of insurance in order to drive legally.

    While comprehensive coverage is one of the many types of Florida auto insurance not required by law, it can be highly beneficial for drivers to purchase this kind of insurance—especially if they drive rare or valuable vehicles.

    Common Events Covered by Comprehensive Auto Insurance

    Comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle for damage caused by something other than a crash with another vehicle. Since a wide range of damages is covered, comprehensive insurance can be an expensive option for your car. However, it might be extremely useful if you drive frequently or live in a big city.

    Covered events under comprehensive insurance can include:

    • Animal strikes. Striking smaller animals such as opossums or squirrels can pop tires, while hitting larger wildlife may cause major damage to your car.
    • Running off the road. If you manage to swerve off the road in time to avoid hitting an obstacle, comprehensive insurance can cover the damage sustained to the undercarriage or body work.
    • Glass repair. Comprehensive insurance reimburses you after incidents with falling or missile objects, including windshields broken by tree limbs, rocks, or flying debris.
    • Weather damage. Hurricanes, flooding, hail, and landslides may all be covered.
    • Theft and vandalism. Comprehensive insurance can restore your property if your car is stolen, burgled, or vandalized.
    • Fire damage. An engine that catches fire from a mechanical problem is not only a deadly occurrence, but also costs thousands of dollars to repair.

    Comprehensive insurance may also be used to cover the overflow costs of an accident. For instance, liability insurance doesn't pay for damage to your vehicle in a crash, nor will it help with the financing or interest costs of your car if you're still making payments.

    If you're unsure which insurer should be paying for your damages, simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our car accident attorneys.

     

  • After I apply for Social Security disability, how long will I wait for benefits?

    calendar_pagesThe timeframe between applying for Social Security disability and receiving benefits varies from person to person. Some applicants receive a determination within a month, while others can wait a year or more before their benefits are paid. In most cases, it depends on the stage at which your claim is approved.

    The Different Stages of Social Security Disability Approval

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) can potentially approve disability applications at many different points in the claims process. The more steps it takes to approve your claim, the longer you'll wait for benefits.

    The length of time before you receive benefits will depend on whether your application is approved:

    • The first time. It takes up to 90 days to get a decision on a new disability claim. However, many claims are denied the first time, so it's likely you'll have to proceed to a first appeal.
    • On reconsideration. If your first application is denied, you can appeal the decision by filing a request for reconsideration. Appeals generally take between 60 and 90 days to process and notify the claimant of the determination. If the appeal is denied, the next step is to request a disability hearing with an administrative law judge.
    • At a disability hearing. There's typically a backlog of cases waiting to be heard by a judge, so it can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to schedule a disability hearing. However, disability applications are more likely to be approved at a hearing than at any other level of the process.
    • For a terminal condition. Claimants who apply for benefits based on a terminal condition or a class of severe disabilities may receive expedited benefits through the Compassionate Allowance Program and quick disability determination programs.

    There are many things claimants can do to speed up their cases and increase their chances of approval. Providing complete and convincing medical information and filing for disability as soon as you're unable to work can both increase approval rates, as can hiring a Social Security disability attorney to present 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.