How Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Calculated
Written by Shawn Diederich on February 8, 2016
Under Florida’s workers’ compensation system, your employer is responsible for the costs of any medical treatment you receive following an on-the-job accident. For simple injuries that do not result in any significant lost work time, that may be enough. But if your injuries render you unable to work—or even limit your ability to perform all of your prior job functions—workers’ compensation may also provide benefits.
In Florida, an employer does not have to pay any compensation to an injured worker, beyond medical benefits, for the seven days following the injury. But if you are unable to return to work for at least 21 days, you are entitled to indemnity benefits as of the initial date of your injury. These benefits must be paid to you weekly by your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Florida law establishes maximum and minimum benefit levels. No employee can receive less than $20 per week, unless his or her regular wages are less than that, in which case they must receive their normal pay. The maximum benefit changes each year. As of January 1, 2016, the maximum benefit is $863 per week.
Temporary Total Disability
If a doctor assigned by your employer determines you are unable to work at all, you are classified as having a “temporary total disability.” This generally entitles you to receive two-thirds (66 2/3 percent) of the regular wages you were earning on the date of the accident. These benefits are paid beginning on the eighth day of lost work. (You can still be paid for the first seven lost work days if, as noted above, you cannot return to work for at least 21 days.) In cases of severe injury—such as the loss of a body part or paralysis—you may be entitled to an increased benefit of 80 percent of your prior wages.
Temporary Partial Disability
There may be cases where you are able to return to work but cannot perform at the same level as before. Under workers’ compensation law, this means you have a “temporary partial disability.” If you are unable to earn your pre-accident wage levels, workers’ compensation provides benefits according to a predetermined formula. For example, say you earned $500 per week before getting hurt on the job. After the accident, you return to work but can only earn $300 per week. Under the formula for temporary partial disability, you take 80 percent of your pre-accident wages ($500 X .80 = $400) and subtract your post-accident wages ($400 – $300 = $100). Your weekly benefit is then equal to 80 percent of that difference ($100 X .80 = $80). You can receive up to 104 weeks (two years) of workers’ compensation benefits for either temporary total or temporary partial disability.
How Can I Maximize My Benefits?
The most important thing you can do following a workplace accident is to strictly adhere to workers’ compensation rules. For example, you should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. You must also not seek treatment from your personal physician; a doctor assigned by your employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier must authorize any medical provider.
You should also not be afraid to seek independent legal advice. An Orlando workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate through the complex rules and regulations and help ensure your best interests are represented. Contact the Diederich Law Firm, P.A., if you have been injured and need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.