When you clock in for a typical day at work, you probably don’t expect to suffer a catastrophic injury. But what happens when the unexpected occurs?
In Florida, if you suffer a catastrophic injury at work, you may be entitled to receive catastrophic injury benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation law. In this blog post, we’ll explain what constitutes a catastrophic injury and the different types of compensation that might be available to you.
Do you have questions? We’re here to help. Call us at (561) 473-9800 to schedule a FREE consultation with an experienced and compassionate West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer. You don’t need to suffer alone!
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
Catastrophic injuries represent some of the most severe cases handled under Florida workers’ compensation law. Though the statutes do not define the term “catastrophic injury” explicitly, it’s generally understood to refer to an injury resulting in permanent total disability.
In essence, it’s an injury so severe that it leaves you unable to engage in gainful employment, accompanied by serious, enduring physical or cognitive impairment.
A catastrophic injury could qualify you for lifetime benefits under certain conditions. Examples of catastrophic injuries under Florida law include, but are not limited to:
- Injuries to the spinal cord leading to paralysis
- Severe burns
- Severe traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries that result in permanent blindness or deafness
- Any other severe injury that hinders your ability to perform daily activities or work
For information about your rights and how to file a claim, we invite you to read our blogs, “An Experienced West Palm Beach Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Shares 7 Facts About Workers’ Compensation” and “Understanding Florida’s Workers’ Compensation.”
Medical Malpractice in Catastrophic Injuries
A medical malpractice claim may arise from a catastrophic workplace injury if a healthcare provider responds to your injury negligently or inappropriately.
It’s important to note that medical malpractice isn’t connected to the actual cause of the injury at the workplace but rather to the medical care or treatment provided after the incident.
Here are a few scenarios where a catastrophic workplace injury could evolve into a medical malpractice case in Florida:
Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis
If a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a severe injury promptly or inaccurately diagnoses the condition, the delay or error can lead to further harm.
For example, if you sustain a traumatic brain injury that goes undiagnosed, it may worsen over time, leading to more severe damage or complications.
Providing improper or substandard treatment for a catastrophic injury also falls under medical malpractice. This could involve failing to perform necessary surgical procedures, using incorrect techniques, or failing to provide proper post-operative care.
Medication errors, such as prescribing or administering the wrong medication or dosage, can lead to adverse effects, exacerbating your condition.
Failure to Inform of Risks
Healthcare providers have an obligation to inform you about the potential risks associated with your injury and the proposed treatment. If you weren’t adequately informed about the risks and suffered additional harm due as a result, this could constitute medical malpractice.
In these scenarios, you would have two separate claims — a workers’ compensation claim against your employer or the employer’s insurance company and a medical malpractice claim against the healthcare provider.
Navigating these claims can be complex, so it’s advisable to seek the help of a West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer to ensure all avenues for compensation are thoroughly explored.
Read our blog, “Steps You Must Take If You Suspect Medical Malpractice in Florida,” for helpful information.
Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries
If you suffer a catastrophic injury at work, a considerable part of the benefits you’ll receive is meant to help with your medical expenses. This includes everything from the immediate care you’ll need right after the incident as well as required surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and even long-term rehabilitative care.
What’s more, if you need specialized medical equipment or if you need to make modifications to your home for better accessibility, these costs are typically included too.
Wage replacement is another key aspect of your compensation. If your catastrophic injury results in temporary or long-term work absence or even leads to permanent disability, you’re entitled to compensation for lost wages.
The calculation considers your present salary and your injury’s impact on future earning potential. When an injury leads to permanent disability, the compensation might also include future lost wages.
Compensation for catastrophic injuries in Florida also takes non-economic damages into account when a third party is involved (such as the manufacturer of faulty equipment). These are harder to quantify but equally important, covering aspects such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of life enjoyment.
If you’re involved in a lawsuit against a negligent third party, your personal injury attorney will strive to ensure these damages are thoroughly recognized.
As mentioned earlier, there are times when a catastrophic injury may be further complicated by medical negligence. This means that a medical professional’s actions—or lack thereof—might have made your injury worse.
In these instances, you have the right to file a separate medical malpractice claim. This opens another door for you to receive additional compensation, especially for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
In such a scenario, the experience of a West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorney becomes critical to ensure you secure the maximum compensation for your losses.
Limitations of Workers’ Compensation Law
Under Florida workers’ compensation law, compensation for non-economic damages is not provided within the worker’s compensation system.
Even if you’re receiving ongoing benefits, have agreed to a settlement, or are suing for workers’ compensation, this aspect of compensation is not covered.
At DiBiaggio Law, we understand that navigating the complexities of workers’ compensation law after a catastrophic injury can be daunting and, at times, overwhelming. However, it’s crucial to remember that you don’t have to face these challenges alone.
As a team of knowledgeable and experienced professionals, we’re here to provide guidance, advocate on your behalf, and ensure you receive the compensation you are rightfully entitled to for your catastrophic injury.
Suffered a Catastrophic Workplace Injury, Medical Malpractice, or Both? DiBiaggio Law is Here to Help
Don’t let a catastrophic workplace injury define your future – DiBiaggio Law is here to help you reclaim control. Our dedicated and empathetic legal team is committed to standing by your side, defending your rights, and securing compensation for your injuries.
DiBiaggio Law is based in West Palm Beach, Florida, and has served clients in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties for nearly 30 years. Call us at (561) 473-9800 or complete our online form to schedule your FREE consultation with a catastrophic injury lawyer. You don’t need to suffer alone!
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.