.Rod Cameron, PL attorney at law, Pace, Milton & Pensacola Florida, personal injury; workers compensation; social security; motor vehicle accidents; family; divorce; child custody; adoption; wills; trusts; estate planning.  Santa Rosa & Escambia County Criminal Defense Lawyers - DUI Defense Attorneys

 

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J.Rod Cameron PLLC

 

Our commitment has been to provide
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(850) 995-8640

or

Toll Free (800) 995-7393

 

 

Normal Hours of Operation

Monday through Friday

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (CST)

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Workers Compensation

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WORKERS COMPENSATION PROCESS AND PROCEDURE

We need as much information as you can provide.  For that reason we ask you to complete our questionnaire in as much detail as possible.  This allows us to get a basic understanding of the facts in your case and identify questions we need to ask you about your accident or injury.
 

Next, we  will meet with you for an initial consultation to go over the questionnaire and answer any questions you may have.  You will then sign a retainer agreement that explains the contingency fee arrangement in Florida. The basic scheme is 10% plus $750 for cases where we do not have to file a claim.  For all claims where we file a claim the fee is 25% of the total settlement.
 

Upon completion of our Retainer Agreement, we prepare a Petition for Benefits (PFB for short), and file it with the State of Florida before you leave our office.  The Petition is a form created by Chapter 440, Florida Statutes that notifies the State of Florida that you have been injured at work.  This claim form gives the Office of Judge of Compensation Claims (OJCC) jurisdiction over your case, and allows the Judge to control the case.  The OJCC then informs the insurance company of your current needs, and advises them of our entry into the case. 
 

The Petition controls the timeline by which all future activities are scheduled.  The insurance company has 30 days to provide the benefit or respond to the claim.  After about 45 days after filing the Petition, you will receive a letter from the Judge of Compensation Claims. In our area, the judges are Nolan S. Winn for Pensacola, and  Jonathon Walker for Panama City. 
 

The statute of limitations for any workplace injury is 1 year.  If you do not receive medical care or compensation checks, or file a claim (PFB) then your case dies and cannot be brought to Court.  Once you have filed a claim, then you must see your doctor at least one time per year.  This is very important because if you forget to schedule an appointment within that one year period the insurance company will close you case and fight to keep it closed.
 

To assist you in understanding some of the terms you will see, please refer back to this document prior to calling our office for an explanation.   
 

PETITION FOR BENEFITS (PFB):  A PFB is a claim filed with the Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) requesting a variety of  issues.  These issues range from a request for a new doctor, authorization for surgery, or reimbursement for mileage/prescriptions, to a request Temporary Total or Temporary Partial Disability benefits.  Each time we file a PFB, you will receive a Notice of Mediation, Pretrial, and Final Hearing within 45 days of the date the PFB was filed. 

 

COMPENSATION OR INDEMNITY: Compensation or money damages are often referred to as indemnity.  It is a repayment for lost wages from the insurance company and it comes in three forms: temporary benefits, impairment benefits, and permanent benefits.

Temporary benefits – an injured employee is eligible to receive temporary checks for up to 260 weeks or 5 years.  These benefits insure that an employee unable to work will receive some form of income while he or she is receiving medical care to repair or heal an on the job injury.

Impairment benefits – when your doctor tells you that you are healed, or at MMI, maximum medical improvement, then he will assign an impairment rating to your injured body part.  These ratings range from 1% - 20%.  You will be paid a check based upon that rating.

Permanent benefits – If you are unable to return to any kind of work because of your accident, then you will considered permanently disabled, and are entitled to compensation checks for the rest of your life.

 

AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE (AWW):  Your average weekly wage is an average of the 13 weeks pay you received for the 13 weeks before the week you were injured.

 

COMPENSATION RATE: The compensation rate is based upon the AWW.  It is calculated at 67 2/3 % of your average weekly wage. Your temporary checks will usually be roughly 68% of your gross income from your paycheck.  The only difference is workers compensation income is not taxable income, so you will not have to report it on your annual tax return.

 

MEDIATION:  Mediation is a Court ordered settlement conference where the parties meet and attempt to resolve the specific benefit that you have requested in your PFB.

Q: Who attends Mediation?

A: Yourself, Mr. Cameron, the attorney for the insurance carrier, and the Mediator for the State of Florida. The Office of Judge of Compensation Claims pays for the mediator’s time, you are not charged. 

Q: Where is the Mediation? 

A: It is always held at the Judge of Compensation Claims office in Pensacola or Panama City, and you are required to attend in person.
Q: What is the Mediation about? 

A: The Petition for Benefits we filed on your behalf, and the benefits you are seeking which the insurance company has refused or delayed to provide you.
 

PRETRIAL:  The pretrial is a conference between the attorneys’ and the judge, where each side explains what the actual legal or factual dispute is about.  We discuss the depositions that have been taken, the evidence we plan to present, and any problems we have in the case at that time.

Q:  Do I go to the Pretrial?

A:  NO.  On most occasions, the pretrial stipulation is exchanged between the attorneys prior to the date scheduled, and the Judge accepts it and sets the trial.
 

FINAL HEARING or FINAL MERIT HEARING:   The Final Hearing is the trial for the claim (PFB) we filed requesting benefits from the Employer/Carrier.  Yes, you will attend the Final Hearing with Mr. Cameron. 

Q: Will I meet with Mr. Cameron before the Final Hearing? 

A:  Yes, but it will depend on the issues of the claim (PFB).  Our office will contact you should Mr. Cameron find it necessary to meet with you. 
 

DEPOSITION:  A deposition is one of a number of procedural “discovery” methods used by the attorneys to “discover” information about your case.   The witness is the individual who must take an oath and answers questions posed by the attorney requesting the deposition.

Q:  Who attends the deposition?

A:  Yourself, Mr. Cameron, the opposing attorney, and a court reporter.  Sometimes, but rarely, a representative of the employer. 
 

AMENDED NOTICE:  Amended Notices are sent out by the Judge of Compensation Claims office when something previously scheduled has been changed.

Q:  When will I see “Amended”? 

A:  You will see “Amended” in front of several events. Example: Amended Mediation, Amended  Deposition, Amended Hearing, etc.  This is simply to tell you that this event has been re-scheduled  and disregard the original notice.  
 

RESPONSE TO PETITION FOR BENEFITS:   When we file the claim (PFB) for you the law requires the Employer or the Insurance Carrier to respond to our claim for benefits.  They must give the Court a reason why they haven’t timely provided the medical benefit or the compensation benefit (check) that you have requested. It does not require anything from you, and you should not concern yourself with the response.  This office will inform you if we are concerned with the response. 
 

NOTICE OF ACTION CHANGE:  A Notice of Action Change (DWC-25 form) means the insurance company has changed something in your case. If you are receiving Temporary Total, Temporary Partial, Impairment Benefits, Statutory Impairment Benefits, or Permanent Total Disability Benefits, you will receive a Notice of Action Change when these benefits are changed in any way. Normally you receive this when they start the checks and when they end the checks.
 

STATUE OF LIMITATIONS: Statute of limitations control when you may no longer ask the Court for more help.  This normally occurs after one year in Florida.  Be aware that each workers compensation case is controlled by the Statute of Limitations.  If will be your responsibility to either visit with the workers comp authorized treating physician at least one time each year, or be receiving checks from the Insurance Carrier.  Should you fail to treat medically or receive a check for a one year period of time, you may lose the ability to claim any future medical benefit or compensation benefit from the insurance carrier.  Simply put, your workers compensation case expires.   
 

SETTLEMENT: Settlement of a worker compensation is a voluntary process that only the injured worker can agree to. The Insurance Company cannot force you to settle your case, and the Judge cannot order you to settle your case.  The Judge can only decide medical or compensation disputes you present in a Petition for Benefits. 
 

When a person settles their worker compensation case, they settle both the medical and the compensation parts of their case.  They cannot receive any additional medical care or treatment and the Employer and its Insurance Carrier are not responsible for paying any medical bills you have not given to them. 
 

Also, when you settle your worker compensation case, the Court will contact all counties in Florida to ascertain whether or not there are outstanding child support orders or payments that you owe.  If they find child support arrearages those funds will be deducted from your settlement without discussion. 
 

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Please contact our office today so we can set up an appointment to have your situation evaluated. We appreciate the opportunity to help you with your legal needs.  
 

Call (Pace) 850-995-8640, (Toll Free) 800-995-7393 or email the firm.

"Life is full of trials and tribulations, but nothing requires you to endure them alone. 
Let me help you..." 
J.Rod Cameron, PLLC.

 

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