Going Back to Work After an Injury in Orlando
Written by Shawn Diederich on June 27, 2016
Florida’s workers’ compensation system allows an employee injured on the job to receive up to two years (104 weeks) of temporary disability benefits. In most cases the employee is able to return to work, although depending on the nature of the injury, he or she may not be able to perform all of the exact same job functions. What is an employer’s obligation in such cases, and what alternatives can the employee seek?
What Accommodations Does an Employer Have to Make?
First of all, an employer may never fire—or even threaten to fire—an employee who is injured and has filed a valid workers’ compensation claim. Nor can an employer fire an employee in an attempt to get out of paying workers’ compensation benefits. Florida law flatly prohibits such actions.
However, an employer is also not legally required to keep your job open if you are unable to return to work right away. And in cases of partial disability, your treating physician may restrict the types of work you can still perform. Your employer is required to meet with you and discuss what work, if any, is available for you taking into account the doctor’s restrictions. If restricted work is available, you will meet with the employer to discuss terms. The employer is not obligated to pay you at the same rate as your pre-injury job, but any difference will be accounted for through your workers’ compensation benefits.
You May Be Entitled to Reemployment Services
But what if you are simply unable to find any appropriate work with your former employer due to medical restrictions? If that is the case, Florida law will provide, at no cost, services to help you find a new job. Such “reemployment services” may include training, counseling, and job placement.
It should be noted that returning to work is only an option if you are deemed to have suffered a “partial disability.” If your injuries resulted in “temporary total” or “permanent total” disability, you are not eligible for any type of reemployment assistance while you continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits. A total disability means you are considered medically (and therefore legally) unable to work in any capacity.
An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help
Workers’ compensation rules can seem complex if you have never dealt with the system before. While you understandably would like to get back to work as soon as possible following an accident, you do not want to take any action that might jeopardize your medical care or ability to obtain legally mandated benefits. A qualified Orlando workers’ compensation attorney can assist you in dealing with your employer and its insurance carrier to ensure your rights are protected. Contact the Diederich Law Firm, P.A., if you have been injured and require immediate legal assistance.