According to Peter Rousmaniere, in his Special Report entitled, The Uncompensated Worker: The Financial Impact of Workers’ Compensation on Injured Workers and Their Families, “Each year, about a million workers suffer a work injury that disables them from working for at least a day.” As Rousmaniere points out in his report, the current workers’ compensation laws in place are slated against the injured worker. Lobbyists paid by special interest groups continue to submit proposed legislation to continue that trend. Thus, a body of laws originally intended to protect injured workers has become the very entity working against them.
It is important for lawmakers to pay attention to the statistical analysis presented by Rousmaniere in his report, which entails countless stories and snapshots of two-income households failing to make ends meet as a result of the financial ruin workplace injuries can create. From errors in calculating the average weekly wage of an injured worker to benefits which can take years to come to fruition, financially, being injured at work can seem even more distressing than simple everyday injuries outside of the workplace.
By highlighting the inconsistencies and injustices apparent in workers’ compensation laws today, Rousmaniere calls lawmakers to action by forcing them to take note of the devastation most injured workers face as a result of their injuries in the workplace, both financially and physically.
Being injured on the job can be a frightening and frustrating experience, but with the help of the experienced, qualified attorneys at Lancaster & Eure, you can have a better chance at receiving the benefits you deserve. If you or your loved ones have suffered a work-related accident, call the attorneys at Lancaster & Eure for your free consultation (941) 365-7575, or feel free to contact us online.
All too often in the workers’ compensation field, fraud is associated with the injured worker. There are cases of workers’ compensation insurance fraud in which workers exaggerate or create their injuries in order to take advantage of benefits afforded to injured workers. Fraud, committed by the employer, is rarely mentioned when discussing the subject of workers’ compensation; however, last week, one story regarding fraud on behalf of the employer made headlines.
Owners and executives of a large general contracting firm in Deerfield Beach were arrested for racketeering and obtaining property by fraud. Richard and Rice, the general contracting firm, used over 20 shell companies to make it appear to the government they were complying with state and federal workers’ compensation and payroll regulations, when, in fact, they were leaving their workers without proper coverage. Because they did not pay insurance premiums and payroll taxes like they were required to do, they ended up being able to submit lower bids for jobs, and save the money they should have been paying the government. Richard and Rice gleaned nearly $17 million from their unlawful dealings.
While their actions created an awful exploitation of the employees of Richard and Rice, the arrests made for racketeering and fraud are merely indicative of a growing problem in South Florida, and even in the Tampa Bay area. Crimes in which employees suffer and employers get away with not providing them appropriate workers’ compensation coverage, while pocketing large sums of money occur regularly in the construction industry.
Employers often attempt to avoid paying the large premiums workers’ compensation insurance companies charge. They give false reports on employees and wages so they appear to have a smaller payroll to avoid paying taxes and higher premiums. They utilize shell companies, like Richard and Rice did, to avoid paying for workers’ compensation insurance coverage, which leaves workers who happen to get injured on the job with no coverage to assist them in getting back on their feet after an injury. When an injured worker is denied workers’ compensation benefits because of fraud on the part of their employer, tax payers end up having to take care of the injured worker through programs like Social Security disability and welfare/unemployment programs funded at the state and federal levels.
This recent indictment and the prevalence of corrupt employers attempting to skirt laws in place to protect injured workers proves it is now time to attack fraud within the workers’ compensation system. It is time to begin enforcing the laws and regulations on the employers (which have been in place for decades), rather than attempting to find fault on behalf of the injured worker in order to avoid providing them the benefits they deserve. If you or your loved one has suffered a work-related accident, call the experienced attorneys at Lancaster & Eure for your free consultation (941) 365-7575, or feel free to contact us online.
In a workers’ compensation case pending before Florida’s Supreme Court, the employer, Hialeah Hospital, is claiming the injured worker failed to follow necessary procedures to allow the Supreme Court to review the case at all. This seems to be just another attempt on the part of an Employer/Carrier to skirt responsibility for a worker injured on the job.
One of Lancaster & Eure’s fellow members in Florida’s Workers’ Advocates (FWA), an advocacy group of workers’ compensation claimant attorneys which fights for the rights of all injured workers in Florida, is representing the claimant in this highly controversial and significant case. The injured worker is challenging the constitutionality of the current Workers’ Compensation laws in Florida. The heart of the claimant’s argument is centered around their claim that the amendments enacted by Florida’s legislature, spanning from 1935 (when the law was created) to 2003, have continually favored employers and insurance companies rather than the injured workers the law was designed to protect. The results of these amendments have been far-reaching; however, they have made the system inadequate when it comes to the protection of rights of injured workers by steadily removing benefits available to them. Every amendment which removed benefits for injured workers has provided nothing to the injured workers in return, and thus, they are left with a system which fails them. The dispute in this particular Florida’s Supreme Court case pivots around the previously available benefits for partial disability, which were repealed with the enactment of the 2003 amendments to the Florida Workers’ Compensation laws.
In this case, the claimant, a nurse, injured his back while lifting a patient at work. He was left with permanent impairment and restrictions to avoid heavy lifting. With this impairment and these restrictions in place, the claimant was unable to return to his nursing position with the hospital, forcing him to take a job as an instructor at a nursing school. Unfortunately, his post-accident employment as an instructor resulted in a significant pay decrease from the position as a nurse he held before the accident. If lawmakers had considered the detriment of the 2003 amendments to the injured worker prior to their enactment, benefits which would assist this injured worker’s recovery, both medically and financially, following his accident would still be in place. Sadly, the claimant was injured in December of 2003, mere weeks after the amendments removing the partial disability benefits took effect.
Florida is known for being business-friendly, and a promising state in which to begin or expand business ventures, but at what price? Should the citizens and workers of Florida be exploited and forced to suffer in order to improve Florida’s business climate? At Lancaster & Eure, we fight for the rights of the citizens and injured workers of our great state, and do not rest until our clients receive the benefits they truly deserve.
If you have a question about workers’ compensation laws in Florida, or have been injured while at work, call (941) 365-7575 or Contact Us today for your free consultation.