Workers’ compensation benefits when a person is injured is a fundamental right provided in most state constitutions. These are the nine “common sense” legal rights that all injured workers expect to obtain following a work injury. Surprisingly, few of these rights are provided in all 50 states.
Here at Kenneth G. Franconero, PLLC, our clients consistently express their disbelief when they find that these basic rights are not provided under the law, or are routinely thwarted by insurance companies.
How many of these do you agree should be part of any workers’ compensation system?
1. Right to choose a physician of one’s own choice.
2. Right to the fast payment of workers’ compensation wage loss checks while they are recovering from their injuries.
3. Right to the fast and timely payment of medical doctors and providers.
4. Right to continuation of payment checks in the absence of the insurance company obtaining a convincing, credible opposing medical opinion.
5. Right to a properly funded and effective state Department of Insurance or Department of Labor, that will fine, deauthorize and otherwise sanction insurance companies that refuse to pay medical and wage loss benefits fully and timely.
6. Right to free vocational retraining and job assistance to be paid by the State or the insurance company where the injured worker permanently cannot return to their previous job due to his injuries.
7. Right to ongoing sustaining wage loss payments while to the injured worker cannot return to work after reaching medical permanency, so long as she is actively seeking reemployment or retraining.
8. Right to a quick and efficient adjudicatory or hearing system for handling disputes, which permit timely determination of medical and wage loss benefits.
9. Right to have the employer or insurance company pay for the injured worker’s reasonable attorney’s fees when benefits are wrongfully withheld, so that all injured workers can have adequate representation regardless of income.
Unfortunately, many state laws do not provide for many of these workers’ compensation benefits. Florida, for example, does not grant an injured worker a right to choose her physician. Also, Florida law does not permit the injured worker who sustained a permanent disability, to recover ongoing wage loss while they are retraining for another job.
Also, in Florida, attorney’s fees are capped and limited to such an extent that it severely compromises an injured worker’s ability to find a lawyer to help them, and also effects that attorney’s ability to adequately represent them. This lack of fundamental benefits is now being challenged by workers’ advocate groups before the Florida Supreme Court.
For more information on worker rights, please visit the following websites:
Victims of Inequitable Compensation Enactment Society
Florida Workers’ Advocates