FAQ
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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Heart & Lung Statute AND Workers’ Compensation Questions:

 

Q: How do you decide whether you will take my case?

We will review your case at no cost. If we believe we can be of service to you, we will meet with you and review the merits of your case. However, until a contract is signed, no attorney-client relationship will be established. *

 
Q: How do I pay for my legal fees and expenses?

We work on a contingency basis. As such, there are no fees or expenses unless we either win or settle your case. *

 
Q: What is a “First Responder”?

The term “first responder” as used in Section 112.18, Florida Statutes, means a law enforcement officer as defined in s. 943.10, a firefighter as defined in s. 633.102, or an emergency medical technician or paramedic as defined in s. 401.23 employed by state or local government. A volunteer law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician or paramedic engaged by the state or a local government is also considered a first responder of the state or local government. *

 
Q: What is the Florida Heart and Lung Statute?

The Heart and Lung Statute (§112.18) applies to correctional officers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers. The statute says that certain medical conditions, including heart disease and hypertension, are presumed (the "presumption") to be work related.*

 
Q: What costs does the Heart-Lung Statute cover?

Assuming you qualify for coverage, the statute requires your employer to pay for 100% of all medications, medical treatment, various percentages of  lost wages related to the treatment of your medical condition due to disability (temporary total, temporary partial and permanent total disability) and any permanent impairment you may have sustained. *

 
Q: Does the Heart-Lung Statute provide coverage if my heart disease or hypertension occurs after I retire?

Assuming the first responder was found to be covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act while still employed, benefits will continue after the date of retirement. However, a retired first responder may still be covered by the Heart-Lung statute’s presumption if he/she experienced heart problems and became disabled BEFORE retiring, notified the employer of his/her medical problem BEFORE retiring, and the employer failed to inform him/her that he/she was entitled to benefits under the Heart-Lung statute. 

But see Section 112.18(4), Florida Statutes: A law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer is not entitled to the presumption provided in this section unless a claim for benefits is made prior to or within 180 days after leaving the employment of the employing agency. *

 
Q: May I receive benefits under Workers’ Compensation and the Heart-Lung Statute?

Yes. You would actually receive Workers' Compensation benefits as a result of the Presumption of work-relatedness found in the Heart-Lung Statute. *

 
Q: Does the Heart & Lung Statute provide coverage if I have a heart attack or episode of high blood pressure while away from work?

Yes. A large number of Heart & Lung cases involve medical conditions that occur while first responders are away from the workplace. If you are employed, have passed your current employers’ pre-employment physical examination, and after being hired you developed hypertension or heart disease, became disabled and placed your employer on Notice of this within 90 days and prior to retirement, you may well be covered by Florida’s Heart & Lung Statute, regardless of where the condition occurred. *

 
Q: How much money may I receive in disability benefits?

The amount of weekly benefits which a first responder may receive is capped at 100% of pre-disability wages. However, cost-of-living adjustments, which occur after a person becomes permanently and totally disabled, are not subject to this cap. *

 
Q: Can I be fired for filing a claim against my employer or my employer’s insurance carrier?

No.   Section 440.205, Florida Statutes states:       Coercion of employees.—No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law.
History.s. 17, ch. 79-40; s. 43, ch. 89-289; s. 56, ch. 90-201; s. 52, ch. 91-1.

At the Law Office of Martin L. Leibowitz, we can help you in determining whether your claim for wrongful termination is actionable. *

 
Q. Can I settle my Workers’ Compensation case for cash?

Yes, the law allows for the voluntary settlement of workers’ compensation benefits through the payment of a lump-sum of cash if the parties mutually agree to do so, and all statutory requirements to do so are met.*

 
Q: What benefits can I secure under the Florida Workers’ Compensation system?

The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act provides lost wages due to temporary disability for up to 104 weeks, permanent impairment benefits based your percentage of permanent impairment, if any, medical benefits including medical treatment, prescriptions, durable medical supplies, and training and education (provided through the State of Florida), with up to 104 weeks of temporary disability benefits.*

 
Q: Can I be fired by my employer for applying for workers’ compensation?

Florida law specifically states that no employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law. The firing of employees for exercising their rights under the Act may give rise to a separate legal action against the employer. *

 
Q: How do I know whether I have a viable workers’ compensation claim?

Consult with an attorney who concentrates his/her practice in workers’ compensation law. The Law Firm of Martin L. Leibowitz, P.A., does not charge for consultation. *

 
Q: Am I required to pay taxes on my Workers’ Compensation benefits?

Generally no, however, whether this is correct under your specific circumstance(s) should be confirmed through a qualified Certified Public Accountant (CPA). *

 
Q: Is the employer responsible for payment if I wish to be seen by another doctor?

The employer is responsible for emergency medical services and if you choose to request a one-time change of physician pursuant to Section 440.13(2)(f), Florida Statutes. Depending on the circumstances, the employer may be responsible for expenses associated with a second opinion if it is established to be medically necessary and for additional medical care providers to whom the injured worker is referred by an authorized treating physician. You should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in order to protect your rights regarding your employer’s payment for your medical treatment. The Law Firm of Martin L. Leibowitz, P.A., does not charge for consultation. *

 
Q: What injuries, diseases or illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation benefits generally apply to injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment, including a previous injury or illness which has been aggravated by the employee’s work where the work accident is the “major contributing cause” of the need for treatment. Injuries which are caused by repetitive trauma, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are covered. *

 
Q: Can my employer ask me to submit to an examination by its own physician?

Yes, you can be required to submit to an Independent Medical Examination, but such an examination must be completed at the employer’s expense, including mileage and accommodations depending on the circumstances. If applicable, the employer is responsible for payment of the employee’s time lost from employment for the doctor’s examination. *

 
Q: How long after my injury should I report it to my employer?

Injuries should be reported as soon as possible, but in no event later than 30 days after the date of your accident. In the case of an occupational disease (heart disease, high blood pressure, tuberculosis, etc.), the Employee’s First Report of Injury must be completed before 90 days have passed after the date the employee becomes disabled. *

 
Q: How do I pay for an attorney to represent me regarding my workers’ compensation claim?

You will be charged a fee only when a recovery is made on your behalf. Details are provided in the written attorney/client agreement form that you will be asked to sign when you retain legal counsel. Be certain to read the agreement carefully, and ask any questions you may have about the agreement at the time of signing. *

 
Q: Do all Florida employers have workers’ compensation insurance?

Employers with four or more employees, part-time or full-time, are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, however, employers with less than four employees may voluntarily  carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.*

 
Q: When should I retain counsel to represent me regarding my workers’ compensation claim?

Martin L. Leibowitz, P.A., recommends you immediately retain legal counsel specializing in workers’ compensation law after you are injured. Your attorney will guide you through the claims process and assist you in obtaining the benefits to which you are entitled under Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act. *

 
Q: Does the workers’ compensation system allow a claimant to secure medical benefits?

Yes, including medical treatment, prescriptions, durable medical supplies which are medically reasonable and necessary, including treatment by specialty physicians and other health care providers who are not physicians, and diagnostic testing. *

 
Q: Should I ever use my group health insurance instead of workers’ compensation?

Generally no. Group health insurance policies do not pay for work-related injuries, and a workers’ compensation insurance carrier is not obligated to follow the instructions of a doctor you obtain on your own, and who has not been authorized to treat you by the workers' compensation insurance carrier/servicing agent/third party administrator. While there are limited situations in which using your group health insurance policy may be appropriate and necessary, before doing so you should first determine whether your group health insurance carrier can assert a lien in your workers’ compensation case based on statute and/or your health insurance contract, and consult with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney. *

 
Q: What should my workers’ compensation lawyer do for me?

Your lawyer should assist you in the filing of your Petition(s) for Benefits with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims, and ensure that you receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act. This may include the taking of depositions of doctors involved in your medical care, insurance adjusters directing your medical care and the payment/non-payment of disability benefits and other fact witnesses. *

 
Q: Can I select my own doctor or hospital?

No, except in very specific circumstances. Generally, the law provides the first choice of your physician to the workers' compensation insurance carrier/servicing agent/third party administrator. An injured worker is, however, entitled to a one-time change of physician per case (NOT per specialty). *

 

*DISCLAIMER

The foregoing observations are made available for educational and informational purposes only, are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date, and are not legal advice. Receipt of this information does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship, and no one should act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. These observations are not like a communication with a lawyer with whom you have an attorney-client relationship along with all the privileges that relationship provides. Please be aware that if you communicate with my office by e-mail or otherwise in connection with a matter for which we do not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential. If you communicate with us by e-mail in connection with a matter for which we already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential. If you communicate with us by e-mail in connection with a matter for which we already represent you, please remember that Internet e-mail is not secure, and you may wish to take steps to encrypt sensitive or confidential materials before sending them via the Internet. Deadlines are extremely important in most legal matters. You may lose important legal rights if you do not hire an attorney immediately to advise you regarding your legal needs. Many people, including many attorneys, do not check their e-mail daily, and some attorneys do not respond to unsolicited e-mail from non-clients.

Martin L. Leibowitz, P.A. shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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