What Is The Process for Filing a Workers' Comp Claim?
First Responder-Specific Workers' Comp
Firefighters, police officers, corrections personnel, paramedics, EMTs, and other state workers on the front lines are protected by individual workers' comp regulations and rules, according to the state of Florida statute 112.1815.
Understanding your rights as a Floridian is the first step in filing a workers’ comp insurance claim to obtain psychological or medical treatment for an injury sustained on the job.
Additional protections and compensation for on-the-job injuries apply to certain professions. Those who work on the front lines in Florida are more likely to encounter situations where they might suffer emotional, mental, or physical trauma. A workers' compensation claim can cover:
- Exposure to a pathogen or toxic material
- Post-traumatic stress from witnessing a suicide or the aftermath of a suicide
- Physical injuries sustained as a result of your job
- Post-traumatic stress from responding to a call where a minor dies or seeing a minor pass away
- Cardiac conditions such as heart disease or hypertension
For a full understanding of how your workers' comp package covers you, ask your employee representative for a comprehensive benefits list.
Workers' Comp Claim Process
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from both potential clients and current clients who get hurt on the job is, “Who do I report my work injury to and how much time do I have to do it?”
The long answer? It depends on the type of injury and when you realized your injury was work-related. The short answer? As soon as possible!
For example, say you twist your knee stepping off the fire truck at a medical call. You’ll need to report this to your supervisor right away, preferably while still on the call. Ask them to prepare a Notice of Injury and request to see a doctor. If you’re the type to buck up and push through these types of injuries to finish your shift, you need to report your injury within 30 days of the incident. This is not a situation where you should remain quiet and hope your symptoms resolve on their own. Depending on the specific facts and timeline of your case, if you fail to report your injury on a timely basis, you can be barred from pursuing any and all benefits for that claim
With an occupational disease such as heart disease or hypertension, you must report your claim within 90 days of the day that you were either hospitalized for the condition or restricted from working in some fashion by your doctor because of the condition. A Notice of Injury should be prepared for this as well so the claim can be taken up the proper channels to workers’ compensation for handling.
To recap, whether mental or physical, your injury must have occurred while on the job. Otherwise, it will not be deemed as work-related. Your first step is to report the claim so the insurance carrier can authorize a doctor. Depending upon the nature of your injury, the deadlines for filing claims vary:
- Physical injury claims must be filed within 30 days
- Cardiac claims must be filed within 90 days
- Mental or nervous injuries must be filed within 52 weeks
Under Florida Statute 112.18, a licensed psychiatrist must diagnose you with PTSD as a result of one or more qualifying events as listed in the statute.
Be aware that regardless of the nature of your work-related injury, there is a chance that the employer will refuse to complete a Notice of Injury on your behalf, or not know what to do with the reporting of your claim. Keep in mind, time is of the essence. If you need assistance with the preparation of this vital document, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
In workers’ comp cases, Notice of Injury and late reporting are two of the most difficult defenses to overcome, due to the strict application of the statutory provisions outlining the time frame for you to alert your employer to your injury. If you are experiencing any difficulties in filing your claim, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with a lawyer that focuses on workers’ compensation for first responders in Florida.
What Happens After Filing?
If you’re a first responder dealing with a tricky claim situation, or if you need help understanding the workers' comp process, turn to a workers' comp lawyer with years of experience in representing first responders in Florida.
At Bichler & Longo, we can help you understand your workers' compensation claim rights and help you communicate with your workers’ compensation insurance carrier. We are well-versed in the claim process and have assisted many front-line workers as lawyers for police, firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs.
If you’re a first responder with questions about filing a compensation claim or workers' compensation in general, contact a workers' compensation attorney at Bichler & Longo for a free evaluation of your case.