Florida Appeals Court Finds Worker Entitled to Mental Health Workers’ Comp Benefits After Physical Injury Healed

Workers’ compensation claims are meant to provide financial compensation to Florida workers injured on the job without having to go to court. In general, workers are able to receive benefits more quickly and are able to receive benefits without having to prove that the employer was at fault for the accident. But it also limits the amount of compensation some workers may receive, as it is often the only way workers can receive compensation after a work injury—though there are some exceptions. Employers also may deny workers benefits that they are due. In a recent case before a Florida appeals court, the court reversed a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) decision, denying her mental health benefits after a work injury.

The claimant was working in a correctional facility when an inmate placed her in a chokehold, causing her neck and throat injuries. Two weeks later, she was determined to have reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI) for her physical injury and was determined not to have a permanent physical injury. She was also referred for psychiatric and psychological treatment. She was diagnosed with acute stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and continued receiving psychological and psychiatric treatment. However, six months after she reached physical MMI, the employer stopped paying indemnity benefits, causing her to file a claim for temporary benefits from that point on for her mental injury. The JCC found that temporary indemnity benefits for mental injuries are only available for six months after a claimant reaches physical MMI, and precluded her benefits beyond that point. The JCC held that section 440.093(3) precluded her from receiving the benefits because more than six months had passed since she had reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI) for her physical injury.

The Florida appeals court reversed the JCC’s decision. The court explained that the six-month limit for temporary benefits does apply in cases where the claimant reaches physical MMI and the six-month limit on temporary benefits commences from the time a claimant reaches physical MMI. However, the court held that according to Florida law, the six-month limit did not apply to the claimant because she had not received any permanent impairment benefits. The court explained that the statute only applies to claimants who are receiving impairment benefits. Therefore, the claimant was entitled to the benefits. Thus, the appeals court found the JCC committed an error and reversed the decision denying her benefits for her mental injury.

Contact the Miami Workplace Injury Attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada

Injured employees are entitled to workers’ compensation from their employers and possibly from others as well. The South Florida workers’ compensation law firm of Friedman, Rodman, Frank & Estrada, PA., has represented accident victims in and around Miami since 1976. Our South Florida car accident lawyers have almost 100 years of combined experience representing accident victims. We have the resources of a large firm but provide clients with the personalized attention of a much smaller firm. If you need representation, schedule a free consultation today by calling us at 877-448-8585 or by filling out their online form to set up an appointment.

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