Appeals Court Says Employer Who Failed to Comply With Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws Must Reimburse Hurt Employee

In Fortune v. Gulf Coast Tree Care, Inc., a Florida man’s shoulder became dislocated after he was assaulted while making a work-related delivery to a customer in 2011. Following the incident, the man was treated in an emergency room at a local hospital. After realigning his shoulder, the treating physician reportedly advised the injured man to seek follow-up care. Although the man notified his supervisor regarding the incident, and the supervisor came to both the scene of the assault and the emergency room, the supervisor apparently failed to file a timely notice of injury as required by Florida statute.

Less than two weeks later, the injured worker received follow-up care at a local Veterans Administration facility. About two months after the workplace assault, the injured man also underwent surgery related to the incident. Despite his work-related harm, the man continued his employment throughout his medical treatment.

Sixteen months after he was assaulted, the injured worker’s employer filed a notice of injury with its carrier. The carrier promptly refused to compensate the injured worker for his harm, and a hearing was held before a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”). Following the hearing, the JCC found that the man was hurt while engaged in the scope of his employment. The JCC also stated the injured man’s employer was required to reimburse him for the emergency care he received as well as his future medical treatment stemming from the work-related incident. Despite this, the JCC denied the injured employee’s request for reimbursement related to his follow-up care because the worker purportedly neglected to request medical or other care from his employer. The man then appealed the JCC”s decision to Florida’s First District.

On appeal, the court reversed the JCC’s decision because the JCC committed error when he failed to apply the plain language of the applicable workers’ compensation statute.  The Florida Appeals Court stated Section 440.13(2)(c) of the Florida Statutes provides an exception to the law, relied upon by the JCC, when an employer fails to provide the initial treatment or care. In the case at hand, the worker’s supervisor was aware of the man’s injury but failed to notify its carrier of the incident within one week, as required by law. According to the court, an employer surrenders its right to control the provision of an injured employee’s medical care when the employer fails to comply with the requirements of Section 440.

Since the JCC did not apply the plain language of the workers’ compensation statute to the injured man’s case when he denied the man’s claim for reimbursement, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal reversed the JCC’s decision and remanded the case.

If you were injured while on the job in Florida, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for your harm. To discuss your case with a skillful workers’ compensation lawyer, do not hesitate to call the caring attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. today at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Fortune v. Gulf Coast Tree Care, Inc., Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2014

More Blog Posts

Florida Appeals Court Overturns Denial of Benefits in Miami-Dade Workers’ Compensation Case, October 13, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Middle District of Florida Refuses to Order Summary Judgment in First-Party Bad Faith Case, October 8, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Contact Information