For most people, state law dictates how to apply and qualify for Florida workers’ compensation benefits. (Federal employees who get hurt or sick on the job have a separate process for claiming benefits.) First, we’ll explain which employees are (or are not) covered under Florida workers’ compensation insurance. Then, anyone with a workplace injury or illness can follow the steps below to apply for Florida workers’ compensation benefits.
Which Employers Must Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance Under State Law?
According to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation, all non-construction industry employers with more than four employees must provide coverage. (This coverage applies equally to part-time and full-time employees.) Construction industry employers with one or more employees (full-time, part-time or contractors) must also have Florida workers’ compensation coverage. However, state law does list a few more exceptions to this mandatory coverage requirement, including:
- Farmers with fewer than six regular/full-time employees or no more than 11 seasonal employees that work for less than 30 days
- Officers of any corporation who elect to exempt themselves from coverage
- Sole proprietors and partners are automatically exempt, but may elect to purchase coverage on an individual basis
Steps to File Your Florida Workers’ Compensation Claim
- Notify your employer and ask which authorized doctor can treat your injury or illness. You must see a doctor authorized to treat you under your employer’s insurance plan. If you need emergency medical treatment before notifying your employer, go to the nearest emergency room! Failure to report your accident within 30 days may put your claim for workers’ compensation benefits at risk.
- Your employer has seven days from your accident date to notify their insurer using Form DWC-1. You should get a call from the claims adjuster within 24 hours to explain your rights and requirements. If not, call the Florida workers’ compensation hotline for assistance: 1-800-342-1741. Generally, the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation is two years from your incident date.
- Expect an informational packet in the mail within 3-5 business days after your employer submits that report. You’ll need to sign and return several forms in this packet to start the workers’ comp reimbursement process.
- The insurer must approve or deny your workers’ compensation claim within 14 days. It takes about 3-10 days for medical expenses only, or up to 14 days for claims that include lost wages.
- If approved, you qualify for lost wages after missing eight work shifts. After missing work for 21 days in a row, you’ll get paid for that first seven days off work.
- If denied, contact the claims adjuster to resolve your dispute. Still don’t agree? File a Petition for Benefits with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims to appeal.
For more about the Florida workers’ compensation program, read this Employee Facts Brochure.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Florida workers’ compensation law says your employer may drug test anyone who gets hurt or sick at work. People who cannot pass this on-the-spot drug test may lose their jobs in addition to being denied workers’ comp. Have a preexisting health condition that’s similar to your current injury? Then the claims adjuster is much less likely to approve you for Florida workers’ compensation benefits. If the system seems unfairly stacked against you, we recommend talking to a workers’ comp attorney about your case.
These attorneys always work on contingency, and they offer free, no-obligation consultations to help with cases like yours. That also means they won’t charge you anything for legal assistance unless they help you win your case. And if you do win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free Florida workers’ compensation benefits evaluation online now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.