BARRY A. STEIN, ESQ.
WORKER’S COMPENSATION ATTORNEY
Barry A. Stein, Esq. has been a practicing attorney since 1980. He has been Board Certified in Worker’s Compensation since 1997. He is AV Preeminent Rated by his peers.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to sit with us, Barry. First off, please tell our readers about yourself. What sort of cases do you handle in your practice?
A: I handle cases involving injuries that individuals suffer while working. They pursue claims against their employer and the worker’s compensation carrier
Q: Who is covered by worker’s compensation insurance?
A: All employers who have 4 or more employees are required by Statute to have worker’s compensation coverage. There are some employers who choose to be self-insured and they administer their own claims. IF the worker is in the construction industry, EVERY employee must be covered and the rule of 4 or more does not apply.
Q: What is the employee is paid cash or “under the table”?
A: All employees are covered notwithstanding the method of payment. The employer may be avoiding responsibility for the payment of premiums by not reporting the individual employee. That issue is between the employer and the insurance company. It does not affect whether benefits are due
Q: Important to my practice is whether an undocumented individual is covered by worker’s compensation ?
A: Yes, Elina, undocumented workers are covered by the act. There may be limitations that apply to lost wages, but they are entitled to medical benefits and care.
Q: What benefits are payable to injured workers?
A: Worker’s compensation provides for 100% of medical expenses to be provided AND lost wages paid at 2/3 of the average weekly wage. The Average Weekly Wage is defined as the average of the 13 weeks of earnings prior to the accident. If you are able to return to work but you earn less than 80% of your preaccident wages than there is a formula to determine how much is paid to the worker while on limited duty.
Q: Will the worker lose their job by making a worker’s compensation claim?
A: There is a statute that prohibits an employer from terminating or even threatening to terminate an employee for the pursuit of a worker’s compensation claim. The key is to ask for care as soon as you know you need it after an accident. Don’t though it out because you belive the employer will get angry.
Q: How long does an employee have to make a worker’s compensation claim?
A: An employee must notify the employer within 30 days of the date of accident. There are exceptions or extensions to this rule, but in most cases it is important to give this notice as soon as possible. As for the statute of limitations, an employee has 2 years to pursue a claim in Court by filing a Petition for Benefits. If benefits have been provided than a second layer of the statute of limitations provides that the statute will run after 365 days from the last treatment. This means employees must continue to seek medical care on a follow up basis to avoid having the case close.
Q: What if the accident was caused by someone else, what can the worker do?
A: There are circumstances, like auto accidents or slip and fall accidents on customer’s properties, which allow for the pursuit of the worker’s compensation case AND a third party case for damages against another negligent party. Seek an attorney’s advice as soon as possible to sift through the legal options.
Q: Can a worker’s compensation be settled and will there be a large payment made?
A: Worker’s compensation cases can be settled, BUT in most circumstances, the employer and/or the insurance company will require resignation from employment. This must be carefully considered by the employee, especially if they are a long term employee. As for the amounts to be paid, there are only two elements: a. medical expenses and b. lost wages. These are the only two elements. You DON’T get paid for pain and suffering, mental anguish, or any other intangible elements of damage like you get in a third party case. This is hard to understand for many employees because they know that they have a permanent injury but they will never receive compensation for it in this system. It is a trade-off which the legislature determined was best for businesses in Florida.
Q: Will I have to pay my attorney to represent me?
A: Most worker’s compensation attorneys handle cases on a contingency basis. There was approval by the Supreme Court in 2016 that allows for other payment methods but they all have to be approved by a Judge of Compensation Claims.
Q: Do you charge for an initial consultation?
A: My office has a no charge policy for the initial consultation. Many times I actually handle them by telephone after reviewing medical and other records forwarded to me by the potential client. I make those conferences at the potential client’s convenience so I do meet after hours and on the weekends, so they don’t have to miss work. By the way my office staff is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. If the worker speaks another language we will get an interpreter to make the consultation as productive as possible.
Q: How do people get in touch with you?
A: I can be contacted through my office, The Law Offices of De Cardenas, Freixas, Stein & Zachary, P.A. at 305-377-1506. My direct cell phone number is 305-710-2333, and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also view our website at www.dcfsz.com.
Thank you, Barry, for sharing your knowledge with our subscribers. This is Elina signing off until next month’s spotlight interview. Have a great month!