Catastrophic injuries involve devastating and often permanent consequences to accident victims and their families. The implications of a catastrophic accident may involve severe physical damage, loss of employability, extensive medical costs, and emotional trauma.
Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries
Examples of catastrophic injuries include:
- Brain and spinal cord injuries resulting in partial or full permanent paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Severe, extensive burns
- Injuries that cause significant scarring or disfigurement
- Any injury resulting in permanent disability or disruption to the claimant’s life
Work injuries may occur due to unsafe working conditions, inadequate supervision or training, or failure to follow proper procedures. However, workers’ compensation has a no-fault policy, meaning it does not assign blame and focuses on providing aid for the injured worker.
Who is Eligible for Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD)?
In Florida, a work injury counts as catastrophic if it leaves the injured worker permanently and totally disabled.
According to the Florida Workers Compensation Act, an injured worker may qualify for Permanent Total Disability Benefits if they can prove that they cannot perform any type of paid work within a 50-mile radius of their residence.
Meeting the standard for PTD benefits can be difficult, especially for individuals who live in areas with many and varied job opportunities. Factors that will influence an injured worker’s eligibility for PTD benefits include:
- Physical restrictions
- The worker’s age
- Education background
- Vocational preparation
- Relevant work experience
- Transferability of relevant skills
If the claimant qualifies for PTD status, they will be eligible for permanent benefits that typically equal two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage. Usually, PTD benefits are tax-free.
What Does Workers’ Comp Cover in Catastrophic Injury Cases?
Catastrophic injury cases are among the most expensive for insurance companies due to high medical costs, loss of employability, and other damages accident victims and their families often sustain. Typically, you can expect compensation to cover:
- Medical bills, including hospitalization and lifelong specialized care
- Loss of earning capacity
- Home and vehicle accommodations for disabled persons
- Replacement services for daily tasks the victim is no longer able to perform, such as housework or childcare
Because the cost of lifetime benefits is enormous, insurance companies may resort to several tactics to refute or minimize the claim. For instance, the insurance provider may try to prove that the injury is not as severe as the victim states or that it resulted from an existing condition rather than a workplace accident.
Due to high stakes, efficient, knowledgeable legal representation is crucial in catastrophic injury cases.
Tragically, sometimes employees lose their lives in a work-related injury. If death occurs, the worker’s spouse, minor children, or other dependent family members may receive death benefits of up to $150,000. Workers comp also covers funeral and burial expenses of up to $7,500.
Workers’ Comp Limitations
Workers’ comp only restores a portion of the claimant’s lost wages and doesn’t compensate the victim for the pain and suffering they may have experienced due to the injury.
Although this arrangement may seem unfair, the workers’ comp system includes several advantages to employees, namely a comparatively quick process of receiving benefits without the need to prove that the accident was the employer’s fault.
In some situations, a third party (an independent contractor working on the same site as the injured employee) may have been involved in creating the conditions that led to the accident. In these cases, the worker may file a separate personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other elements workers’ comp doesn’t cover.
Burden of Proof
Under Florida law, the burden of proof in catastrophic injury cases falls on the claimant. The injured worker must prove a causal connection between the accident and injury and establish a reasonable claim to benefits.
The employee also must report the injury to the employer within 30 days of its occurrence—or within 30 days of discovering the condition if it develops over time. Failing to notify the employer on time may result in a loss of benefits.
DiBiaggio Law: Workers Compensation Lawyers in West Palm Beach
If you suffered a catastrophic injury, you might be struggling with physical pain, emotional trauma, and financial uncertainty. Our team at DiBiaggio Law is here to help you fight for your rights and seek compensation. As our catastrophic injury lawyers handle your catastrophic injury case, we will leverage our decades of experience to negotiate on your behalf.
To schedule a free consultation with a workers compensation attorney today, call 561-473-9800 or fill out our online form. We serve all of Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties.
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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 contained 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 on the basis of 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.