Florida Court Rejects Employer’s Termination of Workers’ Comp Benefits after 15 Years

Workers’ compensation cases do not necessarily end when a claimant receives a decision in the case. Employers that originally agreed to pay for treatment may try to stop paying for treatment at some point. In a recent case before a Florida appeals court, the court rejected an employer’s termination of benefits after paying for benefits for 15 years.

According to the court’s opinion, the claimant had worked in a building in Orlando from 1995 to 1997. Employees in the building experienced breathing problems, and after asbestos was discovered, employees were removed from all floors except the claimant’s floor. The claimant was not provided any protective gear and later developed breathing problems. The employer subsequently accepted compensability of the injury under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and accepted liability for the claimant’s illness due to air quality problems.

The employer paid for the claimant’s treatment, until 15 years later when the employer terminated treatment to the claimant. The employer argued that the work accident was no longer a major contributing cause of the need for medical treatment and that the treatment was not medically necessary. A workers’ compensation judge found the treatment was not medically necessary, and the claimant appealed.

On appeal, the court considered whether the employer could deny the employee’s claim for medical treatment after it had previously accepted compensability. The court decided that after an injury is determined to be compensable, either from the employer’s agreement or from a prior ruling, the employer cannot challenge the causal link between the work accident and the injury. After that, the employer can only challenge the causal link between the injury and the requested benefit. If the employer believes there a break in the causal link, the employer must prove the break in causation between the injury and the requested benefit.

In this case, the employer originally accepted the compensability of the claimant’s injury, which it described as a “building related illness associated with indoor air quality problems.” The employer’s expert testified that he believed the claimant suffered from vocal cord dysfunction, and that it was unrelated to the workplace exposure. However, the court explained that the employer cannot escape its acceptance that the injury was compensable by now claiming that the claimant was misdiagnosed. In addition, the doctor did not testify that the claimant’s illness was not the major contributing cause of his need for ongoing treatment. The court explained that the broad definition of the claimant’s injury subjected the employer to broad liability, and that it was required to compensate the claimant unless there was a break in the causal link.

Contact a Miami Worker’s Compensation Lawyer

If you were injured at work, you may be entitled to Florida workers’ compensation benefits. At Friedman, Rodman, & Frank, we are vigorous advocates for our clients in work-related injuries, and in other personal injury cases. We are committed to helping injured workers and their families recover the full amount of worker’s compensation benefits they are entitled to receive. We have officers in Miami-Date, Homestead, Naples, and Miami Beach. Call us at 305-448-8585 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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