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Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits

Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits

Injuries that occur on the job are always unfortunate. I think we can all agree the most unfortunate situation is the worker who suffers an injury with fatal consequences. It happens with some frequency here in Florida. For example, I did a quick search for “worker deaths in Florida” limited to just the last month. The first page was filled with all types of different unfortunate stories:

Construction worker killed by street sweeper in Jacksonville – May 13
Mushroom pallets crush worker to death – June 8
Florida man dies after he was trapped under lawnmower in pond – May 30
Construction worker run over by dump truck – May 18
Florida farm worker dies after complaining of heat exhaustion – May 19

Given the frequency of deaths resulting from workplace injuries, you may ask what benefits are available to the families who have lost a loved one (possibly the breadwinner) in such a tragic situation? The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits to workers injured on the job. It also provides for Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits to eligible survivors of workers who have died because of a work-related injury or illness.

Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits-Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits

If a worker dies because of a compensable injury, the eligible dependents are entitled to certain fixed Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits. The available Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits (accident dates on or after 10/1/03) are as follows:

  • Compensation up to $150,000
  • Funeral expenses up to $7,500
  • Educational benefits for the spouse

To be a compensable injury, i.e. one that entitles eligible dependents to Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits, death must result from the accident within one year. If the injured worker does not pass away within one year, Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits are only awarded if death follows continuous disability and occurs within five years. In death cases resulting from an occupational disease, the death must occur within 350 weeks (6.76 years) from the date of last exposure.

Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits ; Compensation Benefits

To be eligible for Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits, an individual must meet both of the following:

(1)must be one of the following: spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, grandchild,  and
(2) that person must have been dependent on the deceased.

What equates to dependency and what money benefits are available to each dependent can be extremely fact specific. Therefore, if you have questions about Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits, the advisable thing to do would be to speak with an experienced Tampa workers’ compensation attorney regarding the specific facts and circumstances of your case.  Our attorneys would be happy to speak with you about Florida Workers Compensation Death Benefits. To do so, please contact our office for a free consultation.

Pain and Subjective Complaints; Workers’ Compensation

The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act requires that an injured worker show objective evidence of injury. This means that pain and subjective complaints alone will not be enough to establish compensability of an injury sustained in the course and scope of employment. The next logical question is; What is objective evidence of injury?

subjective-complaints-of-painFlorida Statute 440.09(1) contains the following definition:

“For purposes of this section, “objective relevant medical findings” are those objective findings that correlate to the subjective complaints of the injured employee and are confirmed by physical examination findings or diagnostic testing.”

In order to discuss what qualifies as an objective finding, it’s important to discuss the distinction between objective findings and subjective complaints. Subjective complaints come directly from the injured worker: my head hurts, my back hurts when I twist, my hands hurt when I grasp.  Objective evidence is something that does not come only from the injured worker. The easiest example of objective evidence of injury is an MRI, x-ray, or results from other diagnostic testing. Objective evidence of injury could be swelling, spasm, rash. Subjective complaints could be pain, nausea, vertigo, and anxiety.

As work injuries most often produce some type of pain for the injured worker, it is extremely important for thorough and candid explanation of pain symptoms to authorized workers compensation doctors. If a patient is reporting his/her pain is at a 10, and there is no objective evidence of injury, the physician may make notes in the chart that he/she is exaggerating symptoms, has “nonorganic” pain, or that he/she is a malingerer. Therefore, it is extremely important that an injured workers describe pain as clearly and honestly as possible. Doctors often ask patients to complete a pain questionnaire, or ask them how their pain is on a scale of one to 10. Patients often say it’s a 10. A 10 on the pain scale should be reserved for pain so intense that you will go unconscious. The pain of a crushed limb or severe accident. If pain is at a seven, it will still dominate senses causing the person to break concentration frequently due to the pain. There are many factors that go along with pain and subjective complaints. The environment, expectations, attitudes and beliefs have an impact on the experience of pain. Acute or chronic pain can lead to varying degrees of altered behavior, dysfunction or disability.[1]

Florida-workers-comp-lawyers-westIf you have been injured on the on the job and have questions about workers’ compensation in Florida, or wish to discuss your potential case with a Workers’ Compensation attorney in Tampa, Florida, call our office for a free consultation. Our firm has been representing injured workers in Florida since 1989. We represent clients throughout West Florida. We offer in home consultations.

 

 

[1] Pain: A Review of Three Commonly Used Pain Scales. Link here.

 

 

 

 

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