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FLORIDA IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST STATE TO GET HURT RIGHT NOW!
Let me know what you think after watching as, in this video, you’ll learn about the laws that the injured, both in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases, have to deal with in Florida, why they are the way they are, and what you can do to maybe change that.
How’s it going? Domenic Celeste, the virtual accident attorney here, and I’m back with another video. For those that don’t know, I represent people injured on the job in workers’ compensation and due to the fault of another in personal injury all throughout Florida.
Now, as usual, before we get started, I have to show you this disclaimer so just hold tight.
And with that out of the way, let’s get into the video.
To start off, this video is going to seem political, but I assure you it’s not. It’s just a fact that one political party has dominated Florida for so long and, as such, many of the laws that I’ll be talking about were created by that party. Now, what you choose to do with that information is up to you, but, since this channel is about educating Floridians on injury law, I felt that it was necessary to discuss this topic since it’s not something that’s really ever really talked about, and I get questions from my clients all the time about why the laws are so bad.
For the past 10 years, I’ve dedicated my professional life to the injured, so I’m biased towards them, and this video won’t be any different. Any one of us, me included, at any time, no matter how safe we’re being, could be injured in a car accident; a slip, trip, or fall; a work accident; or any other type of accident that involves injury. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones that’s involved in an accident that causes an injury in Florida, then you need to understand that the law is against you, especially as of recently.
First, I’m going to discuss the new changes to personal injury law, which is for negligence cases like in motor vehicle accidents and falls, and then I’ll get into workers’ compensation law, which is for those who get hurt while working.
On Friday, March 24, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 837, which brought significant tort reform to the state of Florida. Tort reform is just a fancy set of words to say that changes were made to the general negligence personal injury cases. For this video, I’m just going to discuss the 3 major changes to personal injury law that may affect you or someone you know.
The first major change was to what’s called the statute of limitations, or SOL, which is the timeframe within which you must file a lawsuit or be forever barred from doing so. Another way of remembering this is you’ll be shhh out of luck, or SOL, if you don’t file a lawsuit before your time is up. This change only affects general negligence claims, but that’s most of the claims out there since it applies to motor vehicle accidents, falls, and other similar accidents. The new law changes the statute of limitations from four years to just two.
And why is this so bad? Well, firstly, you have to file your lawsuit in half as much time as before, which can be problematic because you usually don’t file a lawsuit until you’ve finished treating for your injury so that damages are finalized, but some more serious injuries may take longer than two years to treat, which means you’re unable to negotiate a settlement before filing a lawsuit because you don’t have any other choice.
And why does filing a lawsuit too early matter? Well, firstly, it costs money to file a lawsuit. Next, attorneys have to spend way more time and money on the case once you file a lawsuit, which means less money to you in the end. Another big reason is that the attorney’s fees change from 33 1/3% to 40%, which means you get even less in the end. Most cases settle before having to file a lawsuit, but with this change, it’s just going to mean more lawsuits have to be filed, which seems contrary to the intent of this law change.
Another big change relates to the admissibility of medical bills in court. The new law changes what sort of evidence can be used to prove damages relating to medical treatment to more closely reflect the actual payments or what would be paid by insurance for those medical expenses. So, how does this affect you? Well, if you use insurance to pay for your treatment, it really doesn’t. The major impact is to those who can’t afford to pay for treatment because they don’t have insurance or, even if they do, can’t afford the copay. In that instance, attorneys would get what’s called a letter of protection, or LOP, which is essentially a promise to pay the doctor back later from the case for treatment performed now. This new change essentially removes the ability to use LOPs anymore because it doesn’t matter what the doctor charges, or what you owe; what matters is what insurance would have paid.
Now, you can still get an LOP, but the complications with proving damages if you do will most likely require hiring an expert to explain everything, which will just confuse the jury and also cost a lot of money. But the reason why this change is so important is that medicals are what drives the value of personal injury cases, so if you don’t have a way of getting to a doctor because you can’t afford treatment without an LOP, then there’s not much you can get from your case.
The biggest change to the law relates to what’s called comparative negligence, which is your own fault. In every accident, it’s extremely rare that the defendant, who is the party that you’re saying was at fault and that you’re suing, will be found to be 100% at fault. Rather, you may be at fault too, which is your comparative negligence. The old, and better law in my opinion, was that you could still recover unless you were found to be 100% at fault or, in other words, the defendant was found 0% at fault. Thus, if a jury said your case is worth $1,000,000, but they also found you 51% at fault, you’d still get $490,000 since the defendant was 49% at fault. You see, with the old law, the defendant had to pay their own percentage of fault, even if it was only 1%, or $10,000 in the prior example.
Now, under the new law, in the same scenario, if you’re found to be over 50% at fault, you get nothing, whereas, under the old law, you’d still get whatever percentage the defendant was at fault. This is a huge change, especially for slip, trip, and fall cases since most of the time, both parties are found to be at fault. The same is true for motor vehicle accident cases, but more rarely if you’re rear-ended.
This means that more attorneys will not be willing to spend the time or resources to represent you unless it’s clear that you weren’t at fault at all, which is rarely the case. And if an attorney isn’t willing to help, you might as well say goodbye to that case because there’s no way that you could be able to handle it on your own, especially with these new changes.
One other thing that existed before this law change that I run into a lot is that in motor vehicle accident cases you have to hope that the party that crashed into you has insurance because there’s no law requiring anyone to have liability or bodily injury insurance, which covers other people. Rather, you’re only required to have personal injury protection, or PIP, which just covers you. This is why you should always try and get uninsured or underinsured, also called UM, insurance coverage, which will cover you in case the person that causes your accident doesn’t have any or enough insurance.
Now, if you were hurt at work in Florida, it’s becoming more and more of an uphill battle to get what little you do get from Florida workers’ compensation. My channel is mostly dedicated to Florida work comp law since that’s my primary practice, so I have a lot more videos on this subject, so this portion of the video will just be a brief summary of the law and why it is how it is.
There are only two things that you may be able to get if you get hurt at work in Florida, if you qualify that is: medical care and payment of a percentage, usually arounds 2/3s, of your average weekly wage if you’re out of work. To get either medical care or paid lost wages, you need medical opinions supporting the provision of both. This usually comes from your authorized doctor, who is chosen by work comp. In most cases, your work comp doctor will release you too soon, which means, if you want anything else from your case, you’re going to need to request a one-time change in physician, who is also picked by work comp and will probably land you in the same position you’re already in, or hire a medical expert, called an independent medical examiner, or IME, to offer opinions, which costs thousands of dollars. And that cost is on you. When you get to this point, it may be best to just settle. To learn more about settling, check out the video in the card above.
But how is it that the workers’ compensation insurance companies have gotten such the upper hand for work comp laws? Well, just like the tort reform bill, you have to think of who’s creating and interpreting the laws. Firstly, the legislature writes the laws, and the legislature is heavily swayed to the republican party in Florida. Then, the judges interpret that law. But guess what? We don’t vote work comp judges into office like we do circuit court judges. Rather, the governor, who is Ron DeSantis at the time of making this video, hires and fires all of the work comp judges in Florida. Thus, it’s no coincidence that most of the work comp judges in Florida are former defense attorneys who’ve represented employers and insurance companies in the past. And that’s not to say that every judge appointed by the Governor is a former defense attorney because they’re not, or just because a judge was a former defense attorney means that the judge will always side for work comp, but, look, it’s just part of human nature to side with our biases and with what we are most familiar. And when judges side more with insurance companies, that creates better laws for the insurance companies and worse laws for injured workers.
Now that you know more about Florida’s injury laws and why they are the way they are, what can you do about it? There’s not much you can do to change the laws, but there is something that you can do to change who’s making and interpreting the laws: vote. Vote for representatives who have YOUR interests at heart no matter the party, and who care to make sure that you’re covered if and when you get hurt in Florida.
So, in summary, just don’t get hurt in Florida because, if you do due to someone else’s general fault, you have to file a lawsuit within 2 years of your accident now instead of 4, having LOPs is too complicated and your medical damages are significantly reduced making your case worth less, and if you’re found to be over 50% at fault you get nothing; and if you get hurt at work, your medical care is chosen by work comp and you’re only paid about 2/3s of your average weekly wage by work comp, that is unless they decide to deny your case or benefits, in which case you’ll have to spend thousands of dollars to hire an expert; lastly, the fact is that the new tort reform laws were created by Governor Ron Desantis and the work comp judges, who interpret the work comp laws, were appointed or reappointed by DeSantis too. What you do or don’t do with that information is up to you – I’m just here to give you the information as to why the laws are the way they are in Florida.
And there you have it: now you know more about Florida’s injury laws, why you don’t want to get hurt in Florida, and what you can do to maybe change it.
If you or someone you know were injured on the job or due to the fault of another, you NEED to hire an attorney: give me a call anytime of the day or night; I have a 24/7, 365 receptionist. Or, better yet, you can just text me: 561-935-3822.
But, that’s it for this video. If you got value out of it or if you learned something, please hit that like and subscribe button. To learn more, watch my previous video here or watch a video I’ve chosen for you here. Again, I’m Domenic Celeste the virtual accident attorney. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next video.
In this video, you’ll learn what you should do if you’re ever hurt or injured in a motor vehicle accident while on the job working.
If this is your first time to my channel, my name’s Domenic Celeste the virtual accident attorney. I’m based in Palm Beach County, Florida, and I represent those injured on the job in workers’ compensation and due to the fault of another in personal injury. This channel’s all about answering your questions and giving you tips relating to Florida workers’ compensation and personal injury law. Now, before we get into the video, I have to show you this disclaimer so just hold tight. And with that out of the way, let’s get into the video.
Getting injured in a motor vehicle accident while working is a little different than just getting hurt at work. The biggest difference here is that you could have two cases rather than the usual one. Not only could you have a workers’ compensation case where you get benefits paid for and provided by your employer’s work comp carrier, but you can also have what’s called a 3rd-party, personal injury case against the person or entity that caused your motor vehicle accident.
So, you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident while working; what do you do? The first thing that you should do is hire an attorney who handles both work comp and personal injury cases, or, at least, one of each type of law. And the reason why is that work comp and personal injury cases are tricky on their own, but when you combine the two, there’s just too much to try and handle by yourself.
Ok, so now you know that, potentially, you have two cases here, but which one do you deal with first? Well, since there are strict deadlines for your work comp case, that’s where your initial focus should be. For example, work comp law requires you to report your accident within 30 days of when it occurred or when you knew of should have known that your injury was related to your employment whereas, in a personal injury case, you don’t have such a strict requirement. You also have a 2 year deadline to file a work comp claim whereas there’s a 4 year deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit based on general negligence like a in motor vehicle accident case. You’re also required to see your work comp doctor at least once per year to keep your case open whereas there’s no such requirement in a personal injury case, although not seeing your doctor at least once per year just doesn’t look good.
Besides the shorter deadlines in a work comp case, there are certain benefits to proceeding with a work comp case first over the personal injury case. The first thing is that, in a work comp case, your medical care is paid for and provided by the work comp carrier whereas, in a personal injury case, you have to pay for that out of your own pocket. However, a difference here is that, in a work comp case, you don’t get to pick your own doctor, which can have a negative effect on your personal injury case if you go one that’s more insurance-minded. This is why it’s important to have an attorney who knows both work comp and personal injury law, so that your medical care in the work comp case can be guided to best-benefit your personal injury case. Also, no matter whether you treat under work comp or our own insurance or a letter of protection in a personal injury case, you’ll most likely have a lien for outstanding bills. However, in a work comp case, there’s a specific formula for paying back the work comp lien whereas, in a personal injury case, you have to negotiate with the doctors if they’re even willing to do that.
An even bigger benefit to proceeding with a work comp case first is that you get paid lost wages for being out of work whereas, in a personal injury case, you don’t until the case settles. One of the biggest struggles that I see my personal injury clients endure is figuring out how are they going to survive while recovering from their injury. Now, don’t get me wrong, my work comp clients struggle to survive too since work comp only pays around 2/3 of your full wage, but, as you can imagine, the struggle of living on nothing compared to 2/3 of your wage is a big difference.
Another benefit to proceeding with a work comp case first is that the discovery process is a lot quicker. In work comp, you can begin the discovery process immediately whereas, in a personal injury case, you can’t until you file a lawsuit, which could be years from when you got hurt. This means that when it comes time to proceed with the personal injury case, you’re already prepared and ready to go, which saves a lot of time and money.
Another benefit to proceeding with a work comp case first is that it’s cheaper to handle. For example, the cost of expert depositions are limited by statute to $200 and hour whereas, in a personal injury case, you have to pay whatever the expert wants to charge. Another example is that it costs money to file a lawsuit in a personal injury case whereas it doesn’t in a work comp case. And, in a personal injury case, you have to pay money to serve people with things like your lawsuit, subpoenas, and depositions whereas, most scheduling in a work comp case is just handled between the attorneys without the necessity of paying to serve someone.
Now, just because I’d recommend proceeding with a work comp case first doesn’t mean there that aren’t things that can be done on the personal injury case too. For example, you need to find out if the person or entity that caused your motor vehicle accident has insurance and, if so, how much money are we dealing with here? This is done through a disclosure letter, which needs to be sent out immediately. There also might be something that you need to preserve as evidence in the personal injury case, so a letter of preservation would be important to send out immediately too.
Once you’ve settled your work comp case or you’re at what’s called maximum medical improvement, which, basically, means that you’re as good as you’re going to get treatment wise, then comes the time to make a demand to settle your personal injury case. If you’re unable to settle, then your attorney will file a lawsuit to prepare for trial.
I hope after watching this video, you learned a little bit more about what you should do if you’re ever in a car accident while working. Subscribe and hit the notification bell to know when I release the next video going over tips that you should know when you’re in a car accident while working.
So, as you can see, Florida work comp and personal injury law can be really complex, but what can you do about it? Well, you can hire an attorney that’s licensed to practice law in Florida and that handles work comp and personal injury cases, that represents real clients, goes to court, that knows what they’re doing.
And if you or someone you know were injured on the job or due to the fault of another: give me a call anytime of the day or night; I have a 24/7, 365 receptionist. Or you can go to my website to fill out an intake and schedule a free consultation. Or, you know what, you can just text me: 561-935-3822.
But, that’s it for this video. If you got value out of it or if you learned something, please hit that like and subscribe button; it really helps me out. If you have a question, let me know in the comments below, and I’ll try and answer it. Like and follow me on all my socials to stay updated. And if you want to learn more about me, my firm, Florida work comp or personal injury law, just go to my website: virtualaccidentattorney.com.
Alright, so that’s it for now. Again, my name’s Domenic Celeste the virtual accident attorney. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next video.
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