Your Workers' Compensation Lawyers
Your Christian Law Firm, Dean Burnetti Law represents Work-Related Injury Victims in Polk County, including: Lakeland, Auburndale, Bartow, Haines City, Lake Wales, Mulberry, Polk City, and Winter Haven; in Hillsborough County, including: Brandon, Tampa, and Plant City; in Pinellas County, including Clearwater, St. Pete, Gulfport, Treasure Island, Largo, Oldsmar; and all of the surrounding Greater Central Florida and West Central Florida Areas.
Psalm 6:2 - “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.”
When a person is significantly injured at work (a teenager working in a fast food restaurant being burned by grease, a home inspector falling off a roof, a young woman working in a gourmet bistro accidentally cutting off a fingertip while fileting a fish, a waitress being hit in the face by a swinging door, a warehouse worker suffering a slipped disc by lifting a heavy crate), it’s never a “small deal.” But when a person dies while doing their job (a bus driver hitting a slippery spot of road and driving over a bridge, a car falling on a garage mechanic because of a faulty lift, a cleaning lady slipping in floor wax and falling into a glass table which cuts her carotid artery), the event’s horror is compounded.
Workplace injuries and workplace deaths are always dreadful, but they are especially horrendous if you don’t work in the type of capacity where your job duties are considered hazardous. Think about it: People such as firefighters, foreign correspondent news reporters, lifeguards, law enforcement, construction workers, and airline pilots might have face certain level of risk as far as work-related injuries in conjunction with the dangerous types of jobs that they do. Even people who work in such professions as banking, criminal prosecutors, dog grooming, Uber drivers, convenience store cashiers, or real estate agents may have some level of concern about the danger they could potentially face while on the job.
But what if you’re a wedding photographer, a court stenographer, or a substitute elementary school teacher? Do you have reason to be concerned about your job’s safety? The sad fact is that all jobs have the potential for injury and/or death. Don’t believe us? Just look at the Italian wedding photographer who was accidentally shot and killed by the bride and groom who were posing with hunting rifles used as props, or the number of court stenographers (as well as more than 100 other courthouse employees, some of whom suffered permanent – and some fatal – inflammatory lung conditions) who were affected by the massive amounts of mold in the Polk County Courthouse in the early 1990s, or the Newton, Connecticut mass shooting that took the life of the substitute teacher.
On December 29, 1970, the United States’ Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted, and it inspired Congress to create the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an entity which assures safe working conditions by setting and enforcing specific standards of protocol for each and every industry.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reports that in 2016, our nation lost a total of 5,190 citizens due to fatal work injuries. This figure increased 7% from the 4,836 fatal work injuries reported in 2015.
Work fatalities involving transportation accounted for 40% of this total. Violence and other fatal injuries caused by humans and/or animals increased 23% from the previous year, and were the second most
common cause of workplace fatalities in 2016.
Workplace deaths triggered by exposure to harmful substances or environments in 2016 increased 22% from 2015. Sadly, there were 500 workplace homicides in 2016, which accounted for the highest number of workplace murders since 2010! This was an increase from 417 workplace homicides in 2015. An additional 2016 workplace suicides increased to 291, accounting for the most suicides since 1992, when the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries began collecting data.
Work-related fatalities that resulted from slips, trips, and falls have continued an upward trend since 2011, and reached 849 deaths in 2016. More than 25% of these accidents were in the tree trimming, roofing, carpentry, and truck driving industries. 2016 also saw a notable upswing of workplace fatalities among food preparation and food serving related occupations, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations, installation, maintenance, and repair occupations, transportation and material moving occupations, and sales and retail occupations. (By the way, isn’t it startling that law enforcement, firefighters, and airline pilots aren’t in these lists?)
The bottom line is, these statistics are staggering! People should be able to go out and make a decent wage without the fear of permanent injury or death. These numbers reflect a very high-risk work environment for just about any industry you can think of.
Unfortunately, when an employee is injured in any capacity, it not only affects their own health and livelihood, but it brings a hardship to their family and people who depend on them and their income to sustain they current way of life. Work related injuries can lead to costly medical bills, not to mention a loss of income and future earning capacity if the injury prohibits the victim from working. A work-related injury to a single member of a family can cause the entire family to find themselves in dire circumstances.
Luckily, victims of work-related injuries or deaths may qualify for assistance through their employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance.
What types of injuries does Workers’ Compensation cover?
Typically, Workers’ Compensation claims vary from state to state, from person to person, and from employer to employer. Some of the most common injuries covered by Workers’ Compensation include:
Head Injuries Such As:
- Head Trauma
- Neck Injury
- Partial or Total Hearing Loss in One or Both Ears
- Eye Injury
- Loss of Partial Vision in One or Both Eyes
- Total Blindness in One or Both Eyes
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a head injury such as these would be: Chemical Engineers, Scientists, Welders, Drivers, Forestry, Gymnastics Teachers, Warehouse Workers, Agriculture, or Construction Workers.
Bone & Cartilage Injuries Such As:
- Joint Injury
- Bone Trauma
- Broken Bones
- Torn Rotator Cuff
- Torn Meniscus
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a bone or cartilage injury such as these would be: House Painters, Auto Mechanics, Martial Arts Instructors, Roofers, Construction Workers, EMT Workers, Drivers, Professional Sports Players, Warehouse Workers, or Loading Dock Workers.
Muscle Injuries Such As:
- Muscle Tear
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a muscle injury such as these would be: Mail Clerks, Delivery Truck Drivers, Airline Luggage Handlers, EMT Worker, Furniture Assemblers, Plumbers, House Movers, or Retail Stock Employees.
Back Injuries Such As:
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Slipped Disc
- Bulging Disc
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a back injury such as these would be: Nurses, EMT Workers, Drivers, Horse Trainers, Pool Cage Screeners, Motocross Race Drivers, Roofers, Window Washers, or Tree Trimmers.
Soft Tissue Injuries Such As:
- Nerve Injury
- Tendon Injury
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a soft tissue injury such as these would be: Drivers, Fruit and Vegetable Pickers, Fishermen, Law Enforcement Workers, Mail Carriers, Fire Fighters, or Restaurant Servers.
Loss of Body Part Such As:
- Loss of Arm
- Loss of Hand
- Loss of Finger
- Loss of Leg
- Loss of Foot
- Loss of Toe
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a loss of a body part injury such as these would be: Drivers, Heavy Equipment Operators, Pool Screen Installers, Sawmill Operators, Constructions Workers, Shop Teachers, Divers, Auto Mechanics, Farmers, Aluminum Workers, or Window Installers.
Repetitive Trauma or Stress Injuries Such As:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Aggravation of Arthritis or Other Pre-Existing Condition
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a repetitive trauma or stress injury such as these would be: Receptionists, Secretaries, Paralegals, Stenographers, Court Reporters, Hair Stylists, Meat Packers, Digital Artists, Assembly Line Workers, or Seamstresses.
Cause or Aggravation of Stress Disorders Such As:
- General Anxiety Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Heart Attack
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a cause or aggravation of stress disorder injury such as these would be: Firefighters, Police Officers, EMT Personnel, Military Personnel, Airline Pilots, News Reporters, Senior Corporate Executives, Flight Attendants, Attorneys, Surgeons, Post Office Workers, or Small Business Owners.
Lung Injuries Such As:
- Exposure to Toxic Mold
- Exposure to Radiation
- Exposure to Nuclear Products
- Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
- Exposure to Asbestos
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a lung injury such as these would be: Mold Remediators, Chemical Mixers, Gardeners, Nuclear Power Plant Employees, Nuclear Engineers, Military Personnel, House Painters, Hazardous Waste Site Employees, Pest Control Technicians, Lawn Maintenance Technicians, Fire Fighters, Sewage Workers, Health Care Workers, Insulation Installers, Textile Workers, Bakers, Bartenders, Miners, Auto Mechanics, and Loading Dock Loaders.
Chemical Exposure Injuries Such As:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Exposure to Asbestos
- Exposure to Toxic Mold
- Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with a chemical exposure injury such as these would be: Mold Remediators, Chemical Sprayers, Gardeners, Military Personnel, House Painters, Pest Control Technicians, Lawn Maintenance Technicians, Miners, Auto Mechanics, Construction Workers, Hotel Employees, Welders, Scientists, Chemists, Carpet Cleaners, Hazardous Waste Site Employees, Hospital Employees, and Heavy Equipment Operators.
Explosion, Fire, or Heat Exposure Injuries Such As:
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with an explosion, fire, or heat exposure injury such as these would be: Fire Fighters, Bakers, Bomb Squad Personnel, Military Personnel, Chemical Engineers, Boiler Room Personnel, Welders, Ceramics Plant Employees, Glass Products Facilities, Iron and Steel Foundry Workers, Commercial Kitchen Employees, Laundry Room Employees, Scientist, Power Line Workers, Furnace Operators, Miners, Oil Rig Operators, and Law Enforcement Personnel.
Exposure Infections or Diseases Such As:
- MRSA infections
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with an exposure infection or disease such as these would be: Hospital Employees, Janitors, Medical Clinic Employees, Nursing Home Employees, Doctors, Daycare Workers, Nurses, Phlebotomists, Teachers, Airline Employees, Emergency Medical Technicians, First Responders, Sewage Workers, and Bartenders.
Animal Bites or Attacks or Contracting Rabies Such As:
- Dog Bites
- Snake Bites
- Raccoon Bites
- Wolf Bites
- Alligator Attacks
- Bear Attacks
- Elephant Attacks
- Lion or Tiger Attacks
Examples of jobs where an employee might be injured with animal bites or attacks or contracting rabies such as these would be: Fish, Game, and Wildlife Employee, Lawn Maintenance Engineer, Park Ranger, Circus Animal Trainer, Zookeeper, Wildlife Preserve Animal Feeder, Alligator Trapper, Mail Carrier, Meter Reader, Swimming Pool Maintenance Worker, Citrus Grove Inspector, Gardner, Hunter, and Swamp Fisherman.
Jobsite Death Such As:
- An Outside Person Brings a Gun to the Jobsite
- An Employee Brings a Gun to the Jobsite
- Crushing Death
- Caught In Between Death
- Motor Vehicle to Motor Vehicle Accident
- Construction Fall
- Construction Roof or Wall Cave-In
- Farm Equipment Accident
- Heavy Equipment Accident
- Motor Vehicle to Pedestrian Accident
- Plane Crash
- Helicopter Crash
- Theme Park Ride Malfunction
Examples of jobs where an employee might be killed such as these would be: Office Workers, Post Office Employees, Semi-Truck Drivers, Delivery Truck Drivers, Farmers, Industrial Construction Workers, Divers, Fishermen, Forklift Operators, Recycle Center Employees, Carnival Workers, Carpet Warehouse Employees, Coal Miners, Aerial Traffic Reporters, Theme Park Ride Installers, House Builders, Drawbridge Operators, Mobile Home Manufacturers, and Factory Workers.
What types of injuries does Workers’ Compensation not cover?
Now that we’ve covered just a fraction of the types of injuries that Workers’ Compensation covers (as well as a few of the jobs where those injuries may occur), it’s important to note that there are also conditions that Workers’ Compensation will not cover.
As evidenced above, Workers’ Compensation is in place at most jobs for the purpose of providing assistance to employees who are injured on the job. However, if an employee is injured while on the clock, but the employee is not in the scope of diligently performing their job duties, then what?
There are actually several types of injuries that are not covered under workers’ compensation, including:
- Injuries that occur due to horseplay
- An injury inflicted on an employee by himself on purpose
- An injury caused by a “force majeure” (or an “act of God,” such as if a tornado unexpectedly hits the work building)
- An injury received at an athletic or social event that took place outside of work hours and was not part of the employee’s duties
- An injury received while the injured employee was high on the job with illegal drugs
- *For an injury received while an injured employee was intoxicated on the job, it’s possible that the employee may still be entitled to a portion of Workers’ Compensation benefits.
What types of benefits does Workers’ Compensation offer?
Workers’ Compensation is tailored to assist the individual needs of the injured employee. Depending on the type and severity of your injury, your recovery time, the level of permanent disability you sustained, etc., you may be eligible for the following:
Medical Benefits – All medical bills will be paid by Workers’ Compensation if the employee is injured on the job. Medical expenses include such things as doctors’ visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medical equipment, diagnostic testing, prescription medication, rehabilitation clinic stays, and physical therapy.
Temporary Disability Benefits – An injured employee is entitled to wage loss benefits if they are either unable to work due to their injury, or if they are forced to lessen their workload and their earning capacity is diminished due to their work restrictions.
Permanent Partial Disability – Sometimes compensation is paid to the injured employee at the end of their case for their injuries when a they are able to continue working, but only in a reduced capacity.
Permanent Total Disability – These benefits equate to two-thirds of the employee’s wages at the time of the injury. PTD is dispersed when an employee is injured so severely that they are unable to work any longer in any capacity. Before this type of benefit is assigned, several factors are considered, such as the age of the employee, their geographic location, the level of their job experience at the time of their injury, their physical limitations after the injury, etc.
Death Benefits – Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits are paid if a work-related death occurs within one year of the date of the work-related injury. The limit of the Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit in Florida is as much as $150,000. This total benefit will be delineated to cover the following:
- Up to $7,500 in funeral expenses
- Educational benefits to the employee’s surviving spouse
- Weekly payments to the employee’s eligible dependents (based on a percentage of the employee’s wages at the time of their injury or death)
Rehabilitation Benefits – Depending on the type and severity of the injury received, rehabilitation benefits might pay for the injured employee’s care to help them cope with and recover from their incapacitation. They may also pay for specialized vocational training to allow the injured employee to return to work in a different capacity.
Proverbs 16:3 - “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”
Call (863) 287-6388 (in Lakeland) or (813) 287-6388 (in Brandon) today to schedule a confidential consultation with an attorney at Your Christian Law Firm, Dean Burnetti Law.
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We declare that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all. That the Holy Spirit abides in the midst of all within our halls. That the power of prayer is our shield and sword.
We declare that Christ is the cornerstone of this firm.
Lakeland: (863) 287-6388
Brandon: (813) 287-6388