Florida Workers’ Compensation Injuries
As a workplace injury lawyer with 18 years of experience handling Florida workers’ compensation claims in Tampa, we know how the type of injury experienced by the worker impacts their workers’ comp claim. Some injuries are more debilitating than others, some are costlier to treat or require a longer period of recovery, and some are more difficult to identify or diagnose. Every type of injury can present its own unique set of issues and challenges when fighting a claim denial or a cut-off of benefits. Learn more below about the different kinds of challenges associated with different types of workplace injuries, and contact Kobal Law for a free consultation if you’ve been injured on the job in Tampa.
Shoulder and Knee Injuries
Shoulder and knee injuries are painful, debilitating, and extremely limiting in what kinds of activities you can perform while injured, and they often require extensive recovery time. A knee injury can keep you homebound, unable to drive or even walk very much. A shoulder injury can limit your ability for even daily self-care. From tendinitis to muscle tears, treatment for shoulder and knee injuries can range from medicine and physical therapy to surgery and rehabilitation.
Workplace accidents causing shoulder and knee injuries include slips or trips and falls, lifting heavy objects or catching a falling object in an emergency, or repetitive motions causing cumulative trauma over time. Similar injuries occur outside of work in car accidents, sports injuries or due to degenerative disease. Insurance companies know this and fight your claim that the injury occurred at work. If you suffered a torn rotator cuff or a tear in your meniscus or ACL at work, be sure and contact an experienced Tampa workers’ compensation attorney to help secure your claim.
If you’re working in an industry that involves exposure to chemicals or industrial solvents, OSHA regulations require your employer to provide you with the right kind of personal protective equipment, such as respirators, gloves, eye protection or chemical protective clothing. Employers must also provide adequate ventilation, use appropriate methods to control particulates or minimize their release, and eliminate or substitute harmful chemicals with safer alternatives. Even if you work in an office having nothing to do with industrial chemicals, you may still find yourself exposed to toxins in the workplace such as lead, mold, cleaners or asbestos. Toxic exposure can cause a number of different types of injuries, including:
- Irritation to the skin, eyes, and mucosal lining in the throat or lungs
- Liver damage
- Injuries to the nervous system
- Asthma and respiratory illnesses
- Brain damage
- Damage to reproductive health
An injury from toxic exposure can be immediate or cumulative over time. As with other cumulative trauma, proving the source of the illness can be a challenging aspect of your workers’ compensation claim that requires an experienced lawyer to prepare and present a compelling case to the DWC or an appeals board. In fact, Florida Statutes 440.02 creates an extra hurdle for toxic exposure claims by requiring “clear and convincing evidence” linking the disease to exposure of a specific substance at certain levels. Our Tampa workers’ compensation attorney is up to the challenge.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Proving the existence and source of an occupational disease or disorder caused by repetitive motion is especially challenging under Florida workers’ compensation law, which doesn’t seem to provide for coverage of repetitive stress injuries under its definition of a workplace “accident.” These cases are harder to prove than other job injuries, but they are well-established as a leading type of work injury, nevertheless. Put our experience to work for you if you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, a lumbar back disorder, or other repetitive motion injury.
Hearing loss can be caused by a head injury, acoustic trauma, or long-term exposure to occupational noise at hazardous levels. Hearing loss can also be caused by a number of other reasons as well, including illness, age, high blood pressure and medications. When you have job-related hearing loss, expect your employer and their insurer to argue over the source of the hearing loss or even dispute the hearing loss itself. Measuring hearing loss and arriving at the appropriate level of compensation are other areas where our experience in Florida workers’ compensation law can prove invaluable.
First Responder Hypertension
Lots of jobs are stressful, but first responders face so many occupational stressors that they are at risk of developing hypertension. First responders often are forced to deal with long or irregular hours, night shifts, unpredictability of job hours and conditions, spiking adrenaline levels, loud noises and crisis situations on a regular basis. All of these factors combine to create fatigue and stress at unhealthy levels.
Chronic stress is bad and leads to anxiety and depression, trouble sleeping, and trouble eating, including digestive problems and excessive weight gain. These conditions can cause or contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure) which can be debilitating or fatal if left untreated. Of course, stress comes in all areas of life, and insurance carriers will often argue that the causes of hypertension are not job-related. The medical literature on hypertension among first responders says otherwise. And importantly, Florida Statutes 112.18 says that hypertension for first responders is presumed to be work-related. Our Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer takes on these difficult cases and stands up for the people who put their lives on the line so we can be safe.
Under Florida Statutes 440.093, mental or nervous injuries caused solely by stress, fright or excitement do not count as work injuries. However, when such injuries are accompanied by physical trauma that require medical treatment, and the physical injury is at least 50% responsible for the mental stress, then the injury may be compensable under workers’ comp. Mental stress cases have to be proven by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a higher legal standard that is tougher to meet compared to proving other kinds of injuries.
Back, Neck and Spinal Injuries
Neck and spinal injuries can cause partial or total paralysis and partial or total disability. Back injuries may lead to chronic pain or limited mobility. These injuries often require surgery, rehabilitation, and long-term medication, making them some of the more expensive injuries to treat. Therefore, you can expect pushback from the insurer, often claiming that these injuries are due to pre-existing conditions or non-work-related reasons like degenerative disease.
Head and Brain Injuries
Head and brain injuries are not always noticeable at first, absent some obvious symptoms like an open wound or skull fracture, loss of consciousness or vomiting. You may have only mild symptoms at first and “seem fine” according to your employer, despite receiving a serious blow to the head. Head and brain injuries can be tricky to evaluate, and what diagnostic testing reveals about your condition can differ depending upon what tests are performed and when they are done. Common symptoms of a head injury such as headache, blurred vision or mood changes may be chalked up to something else entirely.
If you are not satisfied with your doctor’s diagnosis, you may need to see a specialist such as a neurologist or neuropsychologist. When filing a workers’ compensation claim, your employer controls the doctor selection process initially, but we can help make sure you see the right kind of doctor and get the right kind of care and treatment.
Help with All types of On-the-Job Injuries in Tampa
When you’ve been injured on the job, a skilled and experienced workers’ compensation attorney can make all the difference in seeing that you get appropriate care and full compensation. In Tampa, call Kobal Law at 813-873-2440 for a free consultation.