Florida workers’ compensation law provides workers who are injured on the job with the ability to obtain full compensation for medical bills, partial compensation for wage loss, and can also compensate workers for temporary or permanent disability and loss of earning capacity.
But workers’ compensation benefits aren’t automatic. To get your work accident-related medical care paid for by your company’s insurance carrier, you’ll need to play by their rules—or you might risk losing your benefits entirely.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Law
The first thing you’ll need to do following a work injury is report the incident to your employer or supervisor as quickly as possible.
Your employer could authorize a doctor for you at the time of your injury, but their insurance company must authorize any follow-up treatment that you receive.
If your injury is serious enough to necessitate a trip to the emergency room, make sure to alert the staff that you injured yourself while on the job, and provide them with contact information for your employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Under Florida workers’ compensation law, your employer is required to send an injured worker to an authorized primary doctor and specialist (if necessary) for all care that has been determined to be medically necessary.
Types of authorized care often include:
- Doctor’s appointments
- Hospital stays
- Home nursing services, when necessary
- Physical therapy
- Dental care
- Diagnostic tests
- Prescription medications
- Medical equipment, including prostheses, braces and crutches
- Mileage reimbursement for traveling to and from medical appointments
An employer’s insurance carrier is required to approve the physician who will provide treatment for a work injury.
If your employer or insurance company does not respond to your request for medical treatment or you are billed for work accident related medical care, you should contact the Florida Employee Assistance and Ombudsman Office for assistance.
You Might Lose Your Benefits If You Don’t Follow the Rules
In Florida, the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier typically has the right to direct the medical treatment of the injured worker, which includes choosing the treating physician.
It is extremely important that you are compliant with the recommendations given by your treating physician because if you don’t, you risk losing your medical benefits.
Skipping appointments may also cause your benefits to stop, as will going to your own private doctor instead of the one the workers’ compensation insurance company has chosen for you.
It is important to note that doctors authorized by the workers’ compensation carrier tend to be extremely employer-friendly and likely will do everything possible to get you back on the job as quickly as possible, at the lowest possible cost.
To save money, your employer’s insurer might urge your employer to put you back to work too soon.
If you feel this is happening to you, you should get a detailed description of your proposed job duties and have your doctor review it to ensure that you are capable of performing the work.
Don’t Go Back to Work Until Your Doctor Says You Should
You should never go back to work until your doctor releases you to do so.
But be aware that if your treating doctor releases you to return to work, you are mandated by law to make a good-faith effort to do so.
If you refuse to go back, you will give up your ability to collect lost wage benefits.
Your doctor’s diagnosis is crucial to the amount of medical benefits you will receive to treat your injury and it is imperative that you comply with their recommendations. If you disagree with the orders given by your assigned doctor, you should ask for permission to change treating physicians by notifying the insurance company of your request in writing.
Protect Your Interests by Hiring an Experienced Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorney
After an injury on the job, the decisions made by your employer, their insurer, and your treating physicians will have a great impact on not only your workers’ compensation claim but also your overall health.
For this reason, obtaining competent legal representation is just as important as following your treating physician’s advice. Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney ensures that you’ll receive the best medical treatment possible, and that workers’ compensation will pay for it.