Florida’s workers’ compensation law requires insurance companies to pay lost wages to an injured worker if an authorized medical provider takes the employee out of work, assigns work restrictions that the employer cannot accommodate or the injured worker returns to work but makes less than a certain percentage of their average weekly wage.
In order to receive these benefits, the injured worker must be out of work for more than seven days. If an injured worker is taken out of work, or assigned work restrictions, but then returns to work within seven days, Florida’s workers’ compensation law does not require the work comp insurance company to pay any money to the injured worker.
If an injured worker misses more than seven days of work due to their workplace injury, the workers’ compensation carrier is required to pay a percentage of the injured workers’ average weekly wage if taken out of work. If the employer cannot accommodate their work restrictions, or the employee returns to work but makes less than a certain amount, the carrier will also have to pay lost wages benefits.
If an employer has work within the workers’ compensation doctor’s light duty restrictions, the injured worker must attempt to perform the light duty job duties or risk losing the right to receive workers’ compensation checks, employment checks and possibly their job.
While Florida’s workers’ compensation law allows injured workers to receive lost wage checks, it also allows the workers’ compensation insurance company the opportunity to deny paying those same checks. Remember, the employer and their workers’ compensation insurance companies have common goals and interests: workers’ compensation wants to keep their medical and lost wage exposure down and the employer wants to keep the premiums they have to pay for workers’ compensation insurance at a minimum.
One way they can achieve their goals is by offering work the injured worker will refuse and then claiming the injured worker refused to return to gainful employment. The injured worker is then fired for refusing work and the workers’ compensation carrier will deny payment of lost wage checks based on a voluntary limitation of income defense.
If an injured worker questions the validity of the light duty work being offered by their employer, it is in their best interests to immediately consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If there is any question as to an injured workers’ ability or right to collect lost wages, call an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today.