You could still receive workers’ comp in Florida if you go back to work on light or restricted duty. However, your wage benefits will decrease.
Only your doctor can determine if your injury allows you to perform work. Your employer cannot force you to return to your job before your physician decides you are medically able. You can also consult with a Plantation workers’ compensation lawyer to learn more about your rights after getting hurt on the job.
Workers’ Comp Benefits You Can Receive While Working in Florida
If your doctor releases you to return to work, but you have not reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), you can still receive workers’ compensation medical benefits. Therefore, you can perform light or restricted duty and continue to have coverage for physical therapy, doctor’s visits, and other treatments deemed necessary by your healthcare provider.
Depending on your post-injury wages, you may also collect temporary partial disability benefits if you go back to work. According to Florida Statutes § 440.15, you qualify for partial disability if your new wage is less than 80 percent of your pre-injury average weekly wage (AWW). Temporary partial disability pays 80 percent of your actual lost wages.
- If your AWW was $100 and your current wage is $80, you would not qualify for partial disability.
- If your AWW was $100 and your current wage is $60, you would qualify for 80 percent of the difference between your current wage and the cutoff of $80.
- You would calculate 80 percent of $20 ($16) and add that amount to your current wages ($60), giving you a weekly wage of $76 on partial disability.
You can receive temporary partial disability benefits until you reach MMI or for a maximum of up to 104 weeks. Remember, only your doctor can decide if you can go back to work or if you’ve reached MMI.
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Can You Get Fired for Refusing to Return to Work?
If your doctor clears you to go back to work and you refuse, you could lose your workers’ compensation benefits. You could also lose your job.
According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, your employer cannot fire you in retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim. However, there is no job protection under workers’ compensation law in Florida, and your workplace is not obligated to hold your position until you can return to work. Your employer has the right to terminate you if you physically cannot do your job.
What If There Are No Restricted or Light Duty Jobs Available?
Only your employer can decide if there is a restricted or light-duty job you can perform while you work toward MMI. If your workplace does not have a job for you, ensure your employer notifies your worker’s compensation insurance provider, or you could lose your benefits.
If your employer is willing to maintain your employment until you can return to work, you might be able to continue to collect temporary total disability benefits. If your injuries prevent you from returning to your previous job, but you can perform some type of work, workers’ comp may provide reemployment services.
If you return to work and your employer does not abide by your doctor’s medical restrictions, do not quit or refuse to work. Instead, report the situation to your workers’ compensation insurance adjuster and your doctor.
What If You Believe Your Doctor Made a Mistake?
If you feel your healthcare provider’s decision to send you back to work is a mistake, or your light-duty job is aggravating your injury, you should contact them, discuss the situation, and ask for a second opinion.
If your doctor refuses to recommend a second opinion, you can request a one-time change in physician, per Florida Statutes § 440.13. Your insurance adjuster will choose your new doctor. If you would like an independent medical exam (IME) with a provider of your choice, your insurer must still approve the doctor, and you must pay the medical expenses out of pocket.
Can Your Employer Grant You Leave Time Under FMLA?
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal program allowing employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected medical leave. You may qualify for workers’ compensation and FMLA protections concurrently if you have a serious injury. Sometimes, Florida employers will put employees on FMLA to protect them from termination if they cannot work during their recovery.
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Do You Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
You may need a workers’ compensation lawyer if you disagree with your doctor that you can return to work and are in danger of losing your benefits. A personal injury lawyer with our law firm can help you take steps to protect your workers’ comp or take legal action to protect your rights. Our team can:
- Explain your rights and responsibilities under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws.
- Communicate with your employer, insurer, doctor, and other involved parties.
- Help you obtain an IME and prove you are not medically able to return to work.
- Help you appeal claims denials or discontinuation of your coverage with a Petition for Benefits.
- Prepare and file insurance and legal paperwork.
- Fight for the compensation benefits you are due, including reemployment services if warranted.
- Take legal action to secure fair compensation if necessary.
If you must file a lawsuit against the insurance company to receive fair compensation, there are limits to how long you have to pursue your case in civil court. We can tell you more about the statute of limitations and other deadlines that may apply to your workers’ comp claim and help you get started before it is too late.
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Contact Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers About Your Florida Workers’ Comp Claim
If you go back to work, you may still qualify for workers’ comp in Florida. However, returning to your job may present challenges that could result in losing benefits. In addition, you may disagree with your doctor’s assessment on whether you can work.
If you are at risk of losing your benefits or feel you still cannot medically perform your job, contact Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers for legal advice. Our firm’s workers’ compensation attorneys can explain your rights and fight for fair compensation for your workplace injury. Call us today for a free consultation. We take cases on a contingency fee basis.
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