Archive for January, 2010

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Expert Questions & Answer About A Florida Work Injury

January 19, 2010

The following is an expert answer given by Florida work injury lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Question:
I had an accident at my job where I badly hurt my ankle and foot. I did let a supervisor know about the accident but I told him I would be ok and that paperwork was not necessary. Well the next day my condition was worse. The pain was severe on my ankle and foot. So I told the supervisor that I need to fill out the paperwork. They sent me to their company doctor. Their doctor ordered me to stay home from work for two days and stay off my foot. This was written in black and white and I delivered the paperwork to my bosses. My pain was severe and I had to be laying down with my foot elevated to slow down the swelling. My supervisors said that I would have to immediately go on light duty right after my meeting with their doctor. Are they allowed to override the doctors orders? I declined because of the pain I was suffering. Can I lose my job for this? This was their doctor’s orders, not my doctor. I live in Florida. Thank you

Answer:
Your answer raises many issues in Florida’s workers compensation system.  

When you have a Florida work injury from being injured on the job, presuming your employer has workers compensation insurance coverage, the employer is supposed to put their insurance carrier on notice of your injury and the claim is handled by the WC insurance company.  In some very large companies, a portion of the claim may be administered from within the company.  However, 9 times out of 10, the claim is handled by the WC insurance company or a Third Party Administrator hired by the insurance company.

It is the insurance company, or their Administrator, that makes the decisions regarding your medical care.  This includes choosing the doctor from whom you receive your initial medical care.  They will usually meet, or at least speak to your doctor after your appointment so that they know what type care the doctor is prescribing, and whether you can return to work. Your employer does not choose your doctor, and cannot override your doctor’s work restrictions or limitations.

I am unable to determine from your email who it is that chose this initial doctor.  Usually in a Florida work injury or worker’s comp claim, the initial medical care comes from a "walk-in" clinic.  However, if the doctor told you to stay home, you are supposed to stay home.  The employer exposes themselves to a more serious workers compensation claim, as well as OSHA violations, by forcing an injured worker back to work against his doctors orders.

The first thing you should do is verify that the employer has notified their WC insurance company.  The employer is required to fill out a "First Report of Injury", which is signed by you and the employer, then forwarded to the WC insurance company.  Once this happens, a WC adjustor takes over the management of your claim.  The WC adjustor will understand that a "no work" restriction means you stay home from work, even if the company wants you back right away.

If there is a WC insurance company involved, you should contact your adjustor to discuss the issue.  The adjustor can get the employer straightened out.

There are many variables that could affect my advice to you.  These include the name of your employer, whether you work for a government or municipality, the size of the employer and whether they have WC insurance coverage, the doctors report and specific limitations, and a few other factors.  Florida workers compensation system can be a frustrating and aggravating experience.  It’s important to make sure your claim is set up correctly when it first occurs, and that you are receiving all the benefits that you are entitled to receive.  This includes having an adjustor, or a workers compensation lawyer stop an overbearing employer from forcing an employer back to work against his doctors restrictions.

For more information about a Florida work injury, contact Florida work accident compensation lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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Florida Restaurant Slip and Fall Injury – Expert Advice

January 16, 2010

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and is taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Subject: Slip & Fall Injury

Question:
While leaving a fast food restuarant in Florida, I tripped on some uneven pavement in the parking lot and fell down.  The manager came out about three minutes later with some ice for my injuries, inquiring about an ambulance.  We declined and my husband drove me to a local ER.  Nothing was broken, however, I have a badly sprained ankle and contusions on my knee (used to break my fall). I was discharged with crutches and pain meds (and was also given a tetanus shot). The restaurant insurance company phoned me the next day but I did not answer.  The ER Doc thought I might be out of work for two weeks if there were no additional problems, however I am experiencing additional problems – foot spasms and a stiff and sore knee.  I am a waitress and am always on my feet.  I cannot afford to be out of work uncompensated.  Please tell me my options.  Thank you.

Answer:
Your option is to pursue the company responsible for maintaining the parking lot, through its insurance company, for whatever damages you may have.  This would include a claim for your lost wages, whatever injuries you suffered, medical bills, and any other out of pocket expenses you incur as a result of the fall.  Your problem in pursuing your claim is that the insurance for the property will not have any type coverage that will reimburse you on a weekly basis for your lost wages.  To recover your damages, you will want to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company once you have a better idea of what injuries you have, and you have received sufficient medical care to allow you to return to work full time.

Generally, a landowner owes two duties to persons lawfully on the property – maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn persons on the property of dangerous conditions that the person may not be able to appreciate themselves.  Uneven pavement in a parking lot is a pretty common sign that a property owner failed to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. Uneven pavement is not a condition that occurs overnight. It usually occurs after months, if not years, of wear and tear or due to a condition nearby such as a tree root pushing the pavement up.

Many people will wait to see if the injury disappears over time, but often times it does not.  Your case is a perfect example.  You’re now two weeks after the fall, and not only does your foot still hurt, but now your knee hurts too.

You should contact a Florida slip and fall injury attorney soon.  There are many steps your attorney should take now, i.e. notify the insurance company for the restaurant/parking lot, find out what types of coverage are available, obtain photographs, help coordinate medical care, identify witnesses, etc, that should all be done now.  It is very possible that other people have fallen in the same area. Your Florida accident lawyer should investigate whether similar accidents have occurred on the property.  People’s memories fade over time, conditions in the parking lot get fixed, and evidence of your claim can disappear.  You will have a better chance of making a full recovery for all your damages if the claim is investigated properly now, rather than later.

Most accident attorneys specializing in premises liability (trip and fall) claims handle the claims on a contingent basis, i.e. their attorneys fee is a percentage of any money they recover for you, and offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss whether you have a viable case.  So, you have nothing to lose by meeting with an accident lawyer to discuss the claim.

You have a difficult situation that you are going to have to make the best of.  That is, you can’t afford to miss work, but you have an injury that could affect your ability to work for a fairly significant period of time. Don’t try to get a small settlement now to cover your lost wages over the last two weeks, when your injuries could affect your income for the next few months, or longer.

There are a few steps I would recommend you take immediately:

1.  Speak to an experienced Florida slip and fall injury lawyer – have a detailed discussion about how and where your accident occurred, and what is the best way to pursue a claim.  I offer a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your claim, and evaluate what your options are.

2.  DO NOT SPEAK TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY FOR THE RESTAURANT ANY FURTHER UNTIL YOU HAVE SPOKEN TO A LAWYER;

3.  Get pictures of the area where you fell;

4.  Get back into the doctor and get an updated diagnosis for your foot, and to report the soreness in your knee – it could be from overcompensating for your foot, or could have occurred in the fall.  Either way, you should probably be getting treatment such as physical therapy, or x-rays or MRI’s to find out what is causing the spasm and soreness.

For more information about a Florida slip and fall injury, contact Florida premises liability lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.

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Tips About Work Injury and Florida Workers’ Compensation Claims

January 15, 2010

Work-related injuries can happen in an instant and can have lingering consequences. Here is an overview of the Florida workers’ compensation claims procedure so you know what to do in the event of a work-related injury:

Filing a Claim:

  • Under Florida law, you must give your employer notice of your injury (First Report of Injury) as soon as possible after the injury, but no later than thirty days after the injury occurs. If you wait longer than the maximum thirty days to tell your employer about your injury, your claim may be denied.
  • Your employer is required to report your injury to their insurance company within seven days after you notifiy them of your injury. If your employer refuses to report the injury to their insurance company, you have the right to report it yourself under Section 440.185 of the Florida Statutes.
  • Your employer should have the forms that are needed for filing Florida worker’s compensation claims, but you can also obtain the forms on your own from the Employee Assistance Office of the Florida Department of Worker’s Compensation. When filing a claim, you’ll need to include medical documentation of your injury.If your employer refuses to fill out and submit the First Report of Injury, you can do it yourself directly with the workers compensation insurance company.

Medical Care:

  • Workers comp has a list of authorized medical providers.  The workers compensation insurance company chooses the doctors for your treatment from its list.  Unfortunately, you do not get to choose your own doctors.
  • You can change your physician only once so exercise this right carefully.

Keep In Mind:

  • Under Florida law, you are not paid for the first seven days of disability. If your disability continues past 21 days, the insurance company is required to pay you for the first seven (7) days of disability.
  • Florida law does not require your employer to hold your job open for you until the doctor releases you to work again, however you may be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act.
  • If you can not return to the type of work you did before you were injured, you may be entitled to vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, job-seeking skills, job placement, on-the-job training, and formal retraining at no cost to you.

Appealing a Denied Claim:

  • When Florida worker’s compensation claims are denied, a Petition for Benefits (PFB) needs to be filed.  
  • Once a PFB is filed, the State automatically sends the claim to mediation and sets a final hearing date.
  • Mediation allows you to negotiate with the workers comp insurance company any issues which are in dispute in your claim.  This is also the time you may have an opportunity to discuss settling your claim for a lump sum of money.  However, keep in mind that if you settle your claim for medical benefits with the insurance company and your condition gets worse later, you are responsible for your future medical needs after your claim has been settled.
  • If you and the insurance company can’t reach an agreement during mediation, your case will be set for a final hearing.  A final hearing is similar to a trial and takes place in front of a judge who will decide whether you should get the benefits that have been denied.

Hiring An Attorney:

  • Don’t rely on your employer or their insurance company to be "on your side". They will want to settle your claim for as little money as possible and will be looking out for themselves, not for you!
  • You have the right to hire an attorney to help look out for you. If you do hire a lawyer, make sure you hire one that has extensive experience with Florida workers’ compensation claims. They must be very familiar with the Florida workers compensation laws because these laws are complex and are amended by the Florida Legislature annually.

For more information about Florida workers compensation claims, contact Florida work accident compensation lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, logon to his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.

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Watch Out For The Ice! Expert Advice From A Florida Slip And Fall Attorney

January 10, 2010

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Slip And Fall Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Question:

I fell on ice in my condo parking lot a few weeks ago. The condo association cleared the parking lot of snow and shoveled most sidewalks but they did not shovel the sidewalk in front of our cars, so my only access to my car was on the blacktop.  I slipped on black ice and fractured my arm and am currently in a sling for four weeks. I can not drive to work. I have had to pay for transportation. I am also the caregiver for my son’s two children every other weekend and can not lift my grandson.  I was told that if it heals properly within four weeks I will then go to physical therapy.  I called the maintenance association and told them to please come back out and shovel the sidewalk so we could access cars and they never did.  Do I have a legal right to sue them for negligence, physical harm, pain and suffering etc?

Answer:
The answer to your questions depends on the law in your state for slip and fall accidents, and particularly how your state courts treat slip and falls on ice.  I am a Florida attorney specializing in car accidents claims, slip and falls claims, and workers compensation accidents.  Laws vary from state to state so what happens in a Florida slip and fall case may not be the case in your state.

The best advice I can give you is to speak with an attorney that specializes in premises liability claims, i.e. slip and falls.  He can advise you what the law is in your state for slip and fall accidents which occur on ice.

Generally, a landowner owes two duties to persons lawfully on the property – maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn persons on the property of dangerous conditions that the person may not be able to appreciate themselves.  Based upon your email, the maintenance association knew about this dangerous situation because you called them and advised them of it.  It has probably happened repeatedly in this parking lot.  However, they failed to correct the danger, or provide some other safe route to your car, which should allow you to pursue a claim against them.

You should contact an attorney in your area soon that specializes in premises liability claims.  Slip and fall accidents are somewhat of a specialty to handle them successfully. There are many steps your attorney should take now, i.e. notify the insurance companies for the maintenance association, find out what types of coverage are available, and if there are any other entities that may be responsible, i.e. maybe your maintenance association called another company to come clear the sidewalk, and the other company never responded.  Your attorney should also obtain photographs of the area where the accident occurred, particularly if you can get photos of the area with the black ice on it as it was on the day of your accident.

Most attorneys specializing in premises liability claims handle the claims on a contingent basis,i.e. their attorneys fee is a percentage of any money they recover for you, and offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss whether you have a viable case.  You usually do not have to pay anything up front, and if there is no recovery, you do not owe anything. So, you have nothing to lose by at least speaking with an accident lawyer. Just by my own experience in Florida slip and fall claims, if I don’t think a person has a viable case, I will tell them right up front.  There is no point in creating false expectations and wasting your time and the attorney’s time.

For more information about a Florida slip and fall case, contact Florida premises liability lawyer, Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.jmmlaywers.com, or email him today.

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Have You Been Denied Worker’s Compensation Benefits? – (Florida) Work Injury Information

January 9, 2010

The following is an expert answer given by Florida work injury lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Question:
I was recently injured at work. I work in a warehouse in Maryland loading and unloading rail cars. I fell out of one of the cars while attempting to put the ramp down between the car and the dock door. I followed all the procedures made by my company and workers comp. I went to the hospital ER and told them that I was having shoulder pain in both shoulders. They told me I had just some pulled muscles.

A week later I went to an occupational health doctor for a follow up. I was asked if I had xrays taken and when they found out I didn’t, they sent me to get them done. It was later found that I have a fractured clavicle. I have since been denied workers comp pay and or coverage for treatment due to the fact that I did not fully describe in the accident report that I had injured my shoulder. That was a month ago. I hired a lawyer shortly after I got denied compensation for care and pay. Does it take this long for a lawyer to get the ball rolling? I haven’t seen a doctor since I was told I had a fracture and was denied care. My position has since been terminated do to me not being at work, and I have bills piling up. He told me he would refer me to to a doctor, and get all the necessary paperwork done so I can receive care and pay for my injury, but nothing has been done as of now and its has been more than a month and a half. My question(s) being is how long does this normally take? Am I entitled to pay while being out of work even though my position has been terminated? Do you believe that this particular lawyer is doing all that he or she can?

Answer:
Since your claim occurred in Maryland, I can’t give you details on how the workers comp system works up there.  I’m a Florida injury lawyer specializing in car accidents, slip and falls, and and Florida work injury (workers compensation) accidents.  Laws vary from state to state, particularly in the area of workers compensation, so you need to speak with the workers compensation attorney you have in MD, or get a second opinion from another experienced workers compensation lawyer.

If Maryland is anything like Fla., the workers comp system moves slowly.  If the insurance company denies your workers compensation benefits, we call that denying compensability.  When compensability has been denied in Florida, we have a form called a Petition for Benefits (PFB) which needs to be filed.  Once a PFB is filed, the State automatically sets down the claim for mediation, and a final hearing date.  A mediation would be an opportunity to negotiate with the work comp insurance company on the issue of compensability, and/or to settle your claim for a lump sum of money.  If no resolution comes from the mediation, your claim is set down for Final Hearing.  A Final Hearing is basically a trial, in front of a judge, who will decide whether you should get the benefits that have been denied.

Florida’s workers compensation laws are spelled out in Florida Statutes. Fla. Statute 440.25 states that once a PFB has been filed, a mediation must be held within 130 days of the filing of the PFB. If the parties fail to resolve the issue at mediation, or don’t settle the claim, a final hearing must be held and concluded within 90 days after the mediation is held.

I don’t know if MD has a process like this, but you should ask your attorney. Even if he doesn’t have actual dates for when a mediation or final hearing are going to take place, he should be able to describe the process to you sufficiently to give you a rough estimate of when you can expect to get your claim in front of somebody that can decide the compensability issue.

Regarding your pay while you are out of work, again, MD is probably different than Florida, but Florida work injury laws state that a person injured at work, who is unable to work due to the injury, is entitled to a portion of their pre-injury average weekly wages while they are out of work.  This would include a situation where a person is injured at work, placed on light duty work capacity by his doctor, but the employer has no light duty work available for the person.

My advice to you would be to ask your workers compensation lawyer to explain the process for obtaining, or at least contesting, your workers compensation benefits, including the timelines for a mediation or trial.  If the lawyer does not explain it to your satisfaction, go speak with another experienced workers compensation lawyer.  In Florida, most experienced workers compensation attorneys will meet with you for a free, no obligation consultation to talk about your case.  If you’re not satisfied with your workers compensation lawyer, you can switch to another.

For more information about a Florida work injury, contact Florida work accident compensation lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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Florida Work Injury – Reporting an Injury to Your Employer

January 8, 2010

The following is an expert answer given by Florida work injury lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Question:
From the time of knowledge, how long do I have to report a injury to my employer (Florida).

Answer:
I am not sure what you mean by the "time of knowledge", but Fla. Statute section 440.185 details when a Florida work injury must be reported to the employer.  It says:

440.185  Notice of injury or death; reports; penalties for violations.– (1)  An employee who suffers an injury arising out of and in the course of employment shall advise his or her employer of the injury within 30 days after the date of or initial manifestation of the injury. Failure to so advise the employer shall bar a petition under this chapter unless:

(a)  The employer or the employer’s agent had actual knowledge of the injury, i.e. accident in employers truck, observing bleeding by employee, etc.;

b)  The cause of the injury could not be identified without a medical opinion and the employee advised the employer within 30 days after obtaining a medical opinion indicating that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment;

(c)  The employer did not put its employees on notice of the requirements of this section by posting notice pursuant to s. 440.055; or

(d)  Exceptional circumstances, outside the scope of paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) justify such failure.  Exceptional circumstances require that some uncommon or extraordinary event prevented the claimant from timely filing an accident report.

Once you report the injury/accident to your employer, the employer is required to fill out a First Report of Injury within 7 days, placing its WC insurance company on notice of the claim.

This is the general rule, and not all dates of accident are obvious.  There are different Florida Statutes that apply to different situations, such as F.S. 440.02(1) for exposure to a toxic substance; F.S. 440.151(2) for occupational disease; F.S. 111.18 The Heart/Lung Bill for Firefighter.

If you have a question about a particular set of facts, you should consult with an experienced Florida work injury lawyer to evaluate all the facts related to your claim.

For more information about a Florida work injury, contact Florida work accident compensation lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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