Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida pedestrian accident case involving the duty a defendant employer owes to a plaintiff employee. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the outer limits of an employer’s duty to protect an employee. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant employer owed no duty to the employee, and thus, could not be held liable for her death.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for the defendant employer, a financial services firm. The defendant maintained a bar on-site to encourage employees to socialize and stay at work longer than they may otherwise have chosen to. One day, the plaintiff visited the defendant’s bar after work. After a few drinks, the plaintiff began to get agitated at other employees, and she was eventually told to leave and subsequently escorted out. Her access into the building was revoked.

The plaintiff then began to walk toward her home, which was ten miles away. She was walking along a set of railroad tracks when she was struck by an oncoming train. She was killed instantly.

Continue Reading ›

Workplace injuries occur frequently in many professions, and this is especially the case for jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries. When a worker is injured on the job, there are several potential avenues that the worker can pursue to obtain compensation for their injuries.The first option is a workers’ compensation claim. Florida workers’ compensation claims are filed by an injured employee against an employer for an injury that occurred on the job while they were acting within the scope of their employment. If they are successful in a workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker can obtain temporary or permanent benefits while they are unable to return to work. However, once a worker is able to return to work, the benefits cease. Additionally, compensation for pain and suffering due to the accident will not be available through a Florida workers’ compensation claim. However, if a workers’ compensation claim is available to an injured worker, that will be his sole remedy, meaning that he will not be able to pursue compensation through a Florida personal injury case.

Workers who are injured due to the fault of a third party (i.e., not their employer) can seek benefits through a Florida personal injury claim against that negligent third party. If they are successful in a Florida personal injury case, an injured worker can recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering they endured as a result of the accident. A recent case illustrates how an injured employee unsuccessfully attempted to hold a third party liable for his workplace injuries.

Continue Reading ›

In Soca v. Advanced Auto Parts, an auto parts store employee was apparently injured during a robbery at work. Following the incident, the man filed three petitions for workers’ compensation benefits. Soon afterward, the man’s employer provided him with the benefits he requested, and the worker withdrew his petitions.

Next, the employer sought to tax the worker for costs under Section 440.34(3) of the Florida Statutes. Under the law, the nonprevailing party in a proceeding before a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) is required to pay the “reasonable costs” associated with the proceedings. According to the employer, the company was clearly the prevailing party in the workers’ compensation proceedings. The employee responded by filing a motion for sanctions against his employer pursuant to Section 440.32. In his motion, the worker argued the costs sought by his employer could not have been incurred in the company’s defense against his petition for workers’ compensation benefits.

Continue Reading ›

In Ceristaff, Inc. v. Owen, a worker who was employed as a gas appliance technician apparently hurt his shoulder when he fell at work in December 2013. Following the man’s workplace accident injury, the worker’s employer accepted compensability for the incident. As a result, the employee was authorized to seek medical treatment. After the worker was examined by a physician, however, the employer denied further workers’ compensation benefits due to the employee’s purported preexisting condition. According to the man’s treating doctor, the worker suffered from both osteoarthritis and rotator cuff arthropathy prior to his workplace accident.

After the man’s employer denied his request for additional medical care, the worker underwent an examination by his own designated medical expert. The expert recommended that the worker undergo additional shoulder surgery. According to the physician, the major contributing cause (“MCC”) for the employee’s need for a surgical procedure was his fall accident at work.

Continue Reading ›

In Mathis v. Broward County School Board, a woman apparently hurt her foot while working in Broward County. Unfortunately, the workplace injury resulted in a serious infection that required her to be hospitalized for a lengthy period. Although the woman’s employer initially accepted compensability for her harm, the employer refused to pay her indemnity benefits about two weeks later because a treating doctor asserted that the employee’s injury was not work-related. The employee then took unpaid leave for about one month before returning to work full-time.

While on unpaid leave, the worker filed a claim for an advance under Section 440.20(12)(c)2. of the Florida Statutes. Under the workers’ compensation law, an injured employee may seek “an advance payment of compensation” of up to $2,000 from a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”). After a JCC denied the woman’s request for an advance, she filed an appeal with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

Continue Reading ›

In Boley Centers, Inc. v. Vines, a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) awarded an employee temporary total disability and psychiatric benefits following a workers’ compensation hearing. In response to the JCC’s ruling, the worker’s employer appealed the judge’s decision to Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

According to the employer, the JCC committed error when he considered a particular physician’s opinion in the case because the doctor did not treat the worker, nor was the physician a neutral medical examiner or an expert medical advisor. The employer also asserted that the JCC utilized the wrong legal standard when determining that the worker suffered from a compensable injury, the judge improperly ordered the employer to pay certain medical expenses, and the JCC improperly awarded the employee disability benefit payments. In response, the worker filed a cross-appeal, claiming the JCC erred when he concluded that only one of the employee’s two psychiatric hospitalizations constituted compensable emergency medical care.

Continue Reading ›

Florida’s First District Court of Appeal has reversed a Judge of Compensation Claims’ order denying an injured employee’s request for stipulated costs in a workers’ compensation case. In Gobel v. American Airlines, a Florida worker successfully pursued medical benefits payments from his employer following a workplace accident. After that, the parties jointly submitted a stipulation request related to the employee’s legal fees and costs to a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”). As part of the stipulation, the man’s employer agreed to pay him $200 in costs.

The JCC reviewed the parties’ request and ultimately denied the stipulation regarding costs. According to the JCC, it was unclear whether the $200 constituted actual costs or disguised legal expenses, since the parties failed to submit supporting documentation with their request. In response, the hurt worker argued that such supporting documentation was not required under Rule 60Q-6.123(5) of the Florida Administrative Code because the stipulated amount was less than $250. The JCC rejected the woman’s claim and stated the rule was not valid.

Continue Reading ›

In Moore v. Servicemaster Commercial Services, a commercial housekeeper apparently hurt her right shoulder at work. As a result of her workplace harm, the woman underwent surgery. Following her surgical procedure, the housekeeper was authorized to return to work with restrictions after about one week of recovery time. The woman’s doctor also recommended that she undergo three weeks of physical therapy. Although the woman’s employer offered to place the woman in a light-duty position, the housekeeper stated she was experiencing significant pain and refused to return to work until after she underwent physical therapy. About one month later, the housekeeper was terminated by her employer for failure to return to work or call in.

Approximately two months later, the housekeeper completed the physical therapy that was recommended by her physician. After that, her treating doctor determined the housekeeper obtained maximum medical improvement. In addition, the physician assigned the housekeeper a permanent impairment rating. Prior to completing physical therapy, the worker obtained a new job that began about six weeks later.

Continue Reading ›

In Frankel v. Loxahatchee Club, Inc., a 68-year-old Florida man apparently injured his spine while moving a heavy piece of furniture at work. Following the incident, the man’s employer accepted compensability for the injury. At a workers’ compensation hearing before a judge of compensation claims (“JCC”), the employee admitted that he hurt his right shoulder 15-20 years before the workplace incident occurred. The man also stated he received no further treatment following rotator cuff surgery and post-surgery therapy.

MRI images taken following the 2013 workplace injury showed the employee had degenerative arthritis in his shoulder bones. According to the worker’s treating physician, the arthritis was typical for someone who had reached the man’s age. At the workers’ compensation hearing, the man testified that he never sought treatment for the arthritis.

Continue Reading ›

In Edmond v. Avis Budget Group, Inc., a rental car company worker sought workers’ compensation benefits payments after he was hurt at work in Florida. According to the employee, he was rendered temporarily disabled as a result of the workplace accident. Following a workers’ compensation hearing, a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) ordered the rental car business to pay the injured man more than $1,300 in temporary disability benefits and about $267.00 in legal fees. After that, the hurt worker filed an appeal with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

On appeal, the employee raised two constitutional claims and argued the JCC committed error by failing to issue an award for reasonable attorney’s fees for the work performed by his counsel in order to demonstrate the man’s entitlement to legal fees under Section 440.34 of the Florida Statutes. After filing his appeal, the court requested that the worker show cause why the court’s 2013 decision in another case was not controlling. Next, the employee admitted the case at issue controlled his two constitutional claims. The First District then turned to the man’s inadequate legal fees, or “fees on fees,” argument.

Continue Reading ›

Contact Information