Injured on the Job, What Are My Rights?

In every state of the U.S employers are required to provide their employees with reasonably safe and healthy work environments. However, there are occasions where employers fail to fulfill this duty, and employees are injured as a result. There are also instances where employees can still be injured on the job even when every effort has been made to make a workplace safe. These injuries may include everything from broken bones, aggravations of pre-existing conditions, occupational illnesses, and even psychological injuries. Every state provides some kind of system to assist employees when it comes with work-related injuries. Read on to learn more about how you can protect your rights if you are injured on the job.


The most important way, and also the easiest way, to protect your legal rights is to report your injury to your employer. The majority of states will stipulate that you report your injury within a certain period of time, typically the same day or within a couple days of the incident. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, this may not always be possible, but it is still key to report the injury as quickly as is practical. The next step that you can take to protect your rights is to file a claim with the workers’ compensation court or with the industrial court of your state. This will give formal notice of your injury with your employer, the court, and your employer’s insurance company. After your claim is filed, certain automatic protections are immediately put in place.


What Your Rights Are


Workers’ compensation laws vary across a wide range depending on the state. The rights that an injured employee is afforded also varies widely, including the different legal procedures that ensure those rights. In general, however, there are a number of legal rights that are common across the majority of states:

  • The right to file a claim for your injury or illness in workers compensation court or the state industrial court
  • You possess the right to visit a doctor and to pursue medical treatment
  • If you are released to return to work by your physician, they you have the right to return to your job
  • If you are unable to go back to work due to your injury or illness, whether permanently or even temporarily, you have the right to some type of disability compensation.
  • If you disagree with any decision by your employer, the employer’s insurance company, or the workers’ compensation court, they you usually have the right to appeal that decision, and you also possess the right to be represented by an attorney throughout the whole process.


It’s just as important to understand your right to REFUSE certain requests or offers as it is to understand your rights to ACT. This means that if you are injured and your employer encourages you to use your own health insurance to pay for your medical treatment, then you possess the right to refuse. If your boss offers you some incentive to try and persuade you from filing a workers compensation claim, it is an illegal act and you have the right to refuse. In every state, you are able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim without fear of reprisal or harassment from your employer. If your employer makes it difficult for you to freely exercise these rights, then the penalties which are imposed upon the employer can be pretty severe. It is illegal for your boss or supervisor to harass you at work, or to otherwise make it difficult for you to do your job, if their behavior is motivated by your filing of a workers compensation claim.


If you are seeking legal counsel on a workers compensation case, call Thompson & Thomas PA today for a free initial consultation. 

Social Security Disability

How much do you know about Social Security Disability? Here at Thompson & Tomas, PA, we are here to make sure you have all the information you need to keep your benefits. 


What Is Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability Insurance is a payroll tax-funded federal insurance program of the United States government. It is managed by the Social Security Administration and designed to provide income supplements to people who are physically restricted in their ability to be employed because of a notable disability.


Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) pays monthly benefits to workers who are no longer able to work due to a significant illness or impairment that is expected to last at least a year or to result in death within a year.


While most people who are approved for Social Security or SSI disability will continue to receive their benefit check for years to come, there are things that can cause your Social Security disability benefits to be terminated. If you’re applying for Social Security or SSI disability, or are currently receiving Social Security or SSI benefits, it’s essential to be aware of what could make your disability benefits stop.


The most common reason for someone’s Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits to stop is because they have returned to work. While, in some cases, it’s possible to work while continuing to receive SSDI payments, there are specific rules you need to follow.


More About Us!

Serving South Florida and the Treasure Coast. One of the strengths of our firm is that we practice in several, related areas of law, including personal injury, workers compensation, Social Security Disability, employment law, and more. This is a benefit for our clients if they are dealing with an issue that is complex and involves multiple areas of law.


For example, a workplace injury may involve more than filing a workers’ compensation claim. If someone other than the worker’s employer was responsible for the injury, the worker might have the right to seek additional compensation by filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. If the worker is totally disabled as a result of the injury, he or she may need to file a Social Security Disability Insurance claim. If the employer retaliates against the employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim, the employee may need our assistance in the area of employment law.


Contact Us Today!

Get all the information you need when it comes to social security disability. At the law firm of Thompson & Thomas, P.A., that won’t happen to you. With two principal attorneys with more than 40 years of combined experience and staff members who have been with us for more than 15 years, we provide a level of personal service that isn’t possible in a large law firm. We take the time to get to know our clients, and our clients get to know us. That leads to long-term relationships that benefit our clients. Call us today for more information!


Understanding Social Security Disability

Dealing with social security disability can be confusing. When tackling the subject, many things can come to mind. You are not alone. The legal experts at Thompson & Thomas P.A. are here to give you all the information you need. 


What Is Social Security Disability

Social Security disability benefits are monthly payments that help support people who become too disabled to work. There are two different programs through which the SSA pays disability benefits. Those programs are:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)


Although both programs use the same basic definition of “disabled,” and there’s some overlap between the programs, there are also major fundamental differences. SSI and SSDI are intended for two different groups of disabled workers; the benefits and qualifying requirements differ, and the funding sources are different. 


How Much Will You Get?

If you qualify for SSDI, the amount of income you receive is determined by your work history and the wages you earned over your career. A similar approach is used to calculate Social Security retirement benefits. As with retirement benefits, the SSA calculates your average wages over your working life and plugs that number into a formula, and the result is the amount of your monthly check.


However, with retirement benefits, the SSA looks at your average wages over the 35 years when you earned the most — but you may not have a 35-year work history if you’ve become disabled. To determine how many years of wages to consider in calculating SSDI benefits, the SSA:

  • Subtracts 22 from your current age. So, if you were 50, you’d subtract 50-22 = 28 
  • Takes one-fifth of that number and rounds down to the nearest whole number. So, you’d take 1/5 of 28 in our example, which equals 5.6 and which rounds down to 5.
  • Subtracts the second number from the first. If the second number is less than two, then SSA subtracts two instead. If it’s more than five, the SSA subtracts five. In our example, the SSA would take 28-5, so it would consider 23 years of work history.


Call Us Today!

Many people become frustrated with the legal process because their lawyer doesn’t provide them with personal service. At the law firm of Thompson & Thomas, P.A., that won’t happen to you. With two principal attorneys with more than 40 years of combined experience and staff members who have been with us for more than 15 years, we provide a level of personal service that isn’t possible in a large law firm. We take the time to get to know our clients, and our clients get to know us. That leads to long-term relationships that benefit our clients. Call us today for more information!


All You Need to Know About Real Estate Law In Florida

Buying or selling a property can feel like an expensive and complicated process. Some people believe that they can save money by not hiring a real estate attorney. However, real estate attorneys are incredibly beneficial, and they can save you money and help you protect your assets. As a state, Florida does not legally require parties to hire a real estate attorney when purchasing or selling their home, but let us make a case why you always should.

What does a Real Estate Attorney Do?

Real estate law is a type of civil law that handles the buying, selling, and title disputes of properties and land (both commercial and residential). Real estate attorneys specialize in real estate law cases and protect their clients against any legal issues that might arise during the buying or selling of a property, or resolving real estate disputes.

What are the Benefits of Using a Real Estate Attorney?

A real estate attorney is an additional layer of security when making one of the largest purchases of your life. Your real estate lawyer will help you throughout the entire process and has your best interests in mind.

From beginning to end, your real estate lawyer will review all paperwork to identify mistakes or areas of concern. Before you sell a property, your real estate attorney may go over the listing agreement you made with your real estate agent to ensure the terms are in your favor. As offers come in, your lawyer will inspect the documents to identify any red flags or highlight tax considerations that will impact you later. If you are a buyer, your real estate attorney will research the history of the property, ensure the zoning is up to code, identify any unpaid property tax or utility bills, and inspect the title and title insurance documents.

When it comes time to the final step, real estate attorneys will draft contracts including the review title, mortgage transfer documents, write the deed and check the final breakdown of the settlement to ensure correct payment of funds. Some examples of the contracts your real estate lawyer will draft for you include the Agreement of Sale, the Agreement of Purchase, and the title and closing documentation.

If issues arise, such as alien or judgment on the title, or issues around disclosure, your real estate attorney will protect your best interests. At times, some real estate disputes will go to court, and your attorney can represent you.

While real estate attorneys are optional in Florida, you should always hire an attorney if you are facing a foreclosure, you’re considering a short sale, there are liens or judgments on the title, you’re selling on behalf of a deceased owner, you’re going through a divorce, you have rental tenants, or you expect the sale to be complicated for one reason or another. A real estate attorney is almost guaranteed to be needed at some point, especially if the sale is complicated in some way.

Real Estate Law in Florida

There are two important aspects to real estate law in Florida you should keep in mind. Firstly, Florida has one of the most favorable homestead exemptions in the country. Homestead laws enable people to safeguard their homes by allowing homebuyers to keep a portion of their homes protected. In Florida, there is no limit to the portion of your home that can be protected. This essentially means your entire home could be protected from creditors, even after filing for bankruptcy in Florida. However, keep in mind that property lines established before the homestead take a precedent over the homestead.

Secondly, Florida has adverse possession laws that allow an individual to be granted the title to a neglected property. Individuals can qualify for possession if they have: lived on the property for at least seven years, paid the property taxes during that time, and have significantly improved the state of the home. The adverse possession laws in Florida are complicated. Whether you are trying to claim property, or dispute another individual’s claim to your property, a real estate attorney is necessary.

Thompson & Thompson, P.A.

At Thompson & Thomspon, P.A., the client’s needs are our top priority. With over 40 years of experience, there isn’t a real estate case we have not dealt with before. When it comes to buying, selling, or disputing a property issue, there is a lot of money on the line. Protect yourself and your assets by hiring a qualified and experienced real estate attorney. Call us today for your free initial consultation at 561-295-3530.

Understanding Your Rights As A Victim Of A Personal Injury

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A personal injury can change your life and your goals. After an injury, you may be forced into a situation where you have no choice but to go through medical treatments like rehabilitation or surgery. You may not be able to work, and you might have trouble doing the things that you enjoy in your everyday life.

For someone who is in your situation, it is important to hold the person who hurt you responsible for their actions. Part of that responsibility is paying for your medical care and the losses that you have suffered. In some cases, other people in your family may be entitled to compensation of some form as well.

How do you deal with a personal injury?

The first thing you have to do is go to the hospital or a doctor’s office. You need to make sure that you have a medical exam and that you receive a diagnosis for whatever injury that you suffered. This initial diagnosis may change, so it is important that you go to all follow-up medical appointments.

If you have to have surgery following an incident, make sure you understand what happened and how it could potentially affect you in the future. With any of these medical treatments, you must keep the documentation. The documentation, along with a police report and other paperwork, is important for your claim against the other party.

After you receive medical care, what’s the next step?

After you receive care for your injuries, you should consider speaking with your attorney prior to involving the police or other professionals. If the other party’s insurance agency contacts you, make sure you do not agree to speak with them until you understand your legal standing. You don’t want to say or do anything that could result in losing the right to your claim.

Should I take a settlement if it’s offered?

Do not accept a settlement, especially if you don’t know the extent of your injuries and how they’ll impact your life. Your attorney can help you negotiate for a fair settlement and for the coverage of your medical bills as soon as it is clear how the injury will affect your life. The first settlement offered may not be fair and could leave you with more bills than funds. That’s the last thing that anyone wants to see happen to you as the victim of a reckless act.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Workers’ Comp And The Ability To Sue An Employer

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Normally, employers in Florida are protected from personal injury litigation if they have valid workers’ compensation coverage. This is because the worker’s comp system is set up so that injured workers give up their right to sue in exchange for receiving benefit payments. It’s referred to as a no-fault system because it doesn’t matter who is at fault. However, there are instances when there may be some exceptions.

For example, an employee may be able to go beyond filing a workers’ compensation claim and initiate a lawsuit for a wrongful civil action if it’s believed that an employer intentionally caused them harm. “Tort injuries” include both physical injuries and emotional distress. Actions that might warrant pursuing a civil claim include physical assault or threats of assault, confining an employee against their will without legal authority, intentionally lying to an employee in a way that contributed to a sustained injury, or harm caused by someone at work spreading false allegations.

It’s also possible for an employee to pursue legal action against a third party who may have been responsible for injuries sustained while on the job. Situations like this might include legal action taken against the manufacturer of defective equipment that resulted in a worker’s injuries. However, part of any awarded damages may have to be given to the employer to repay workers’ compensation benefits already received. The employer and their insurer may also opt to become part of the lawsuit against a responsible third party.

Since it’s not always easy to determine if a workers’ compensation claim is appropriate or if there is just cause to pursue civil actions against an employer or third party, it might be helpful for an injured employee to consult with an attorney. A lawyer may get involved with denial or termination of benefits cases if all administrative processes have been exhausted. Appeals are generally made to either a special workers’ compensation board or a special type of court. An attorney may be able to guide an injured worker through the claims process, especially if there are certain documentation requirements.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

When Is Workers’ Compensation Coverage Necessary?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When workers suffer injuries on the job, they may need to seek medical care. There is no reason for them to be responsible for the cost of this care, but some employers might not have the cash to be able to pay for it either. This is where workers’ compensation coverage comes into the picture.

Workers’ compensation coverage is a program that covers medical bills related to the on-the-job injury and can provide other benefits that help injured employees. Understanding some of the basic information about workers’ compensation can help some individuals who need to count on the benefits.

Which employers must have coverage?

The type of business has a part in when they are required to have coverage. The number of employees also matters.

Agriculture businesses that have at least six regular employees must have coverage. If they have at least 12 seasonal workers who work more than 30 days in a season but not more 45 days per year, they also need coverage.

Construction workers who have at least one employee, which includes an owner who is non-exempt, needs coverage. If the company employs subcontractors, the subcontractor is responsible for the coverage but the company must verify that the coverage exists.

Other companies must have coverage if they have at least four employees. A nonexempt owner is considered an employee when determining whether a policy is needed.

Who pays for the coverage?

Employers must pay for workers’ compensation policies. They can’t pass the cost along to employees since this is considered a regular operating cost. Employees can’t be expected to pay any of the costs related to the work-related injury medical bills, so employers bear the burden if there isn’t a suitable policy in place.

Are any conditions excluded?

Florida law doesn’t allow for workers’ compensation payments to be made because of nervous or mental conditions that are due to excitement, stress or fright. Injuries caused intentionally by a worker and those that occur when a worker is intoxicated aren’t covered. Workers’ compensation won’t pay for pain and suffering damages.

These laws are meant to protect the workers and businesses. There might be instances in which a person is denied benefits they should receive. These individuals can file an appeal of the ruling as long as they follow the proper procedures and file their appeal within the established time limits.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

ZF External Airbags May Keep Occupants Safer In Side Collision

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The ZF Group has come up with some definite data about the benefits of external airbags; namely, that they can reduce the severity of occupant injuries by as much as 40 percent. Florida residents should know that while external airbags, like self-driving cars, are still a long way from becoming reality, ZF has a strategy that could soon yield real results.

ZF has designed external airbags that deploy from the side of a vehicle, adding to the crumple zone and absorbing some of the impact of a side collision. The challenge, of course, is to get a vehicle to determine when a crash will occur and then deploy the airbags a split second before.

One external airbag model is approximately 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide. It weighs about 13 pounds. Despite its size, it can inflate the airbags in 15 milliseconds, which is around the same time it takes for a steering wheel airbag to inflate.

Some vehicles already have crash predictive systems, which can cause the seat belts to tighten or adjust the suspension based on the data it receives through its cameras and sensors. Since external airbags can be more drastic, however, there is a greater concern about seeing them deploy when they are not needed.

Side collisions often result in serious injuries, and without any advanced safety features to mitigate them, victims may be left with permanent conditions requiring lifelong medical care. However, compensation may be garnered through a personal injury claim. Filing a claim is a complicated process, so victims may want legal representation. After a thorough evaluation, a lawyer could proceed to build up a case.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

How Is Liability Decided In The Wake Of A Mass Shooting?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When first responders reached the Jacksonville Landing Complex on August 26th, 2018, they had close to a dozen victims with varying degrees of injury. A 24-year-old gunman had opened fire at an online video game tournament, killing two before taking his own life. During his shooting rampage, the gunman injured nine others who required medical treatment.

In the months that have passed since this tragic event, victims fortunate enough to survive have been focused on both their physical and mental recovery. For the loved ones of the victims who died, they have no choice but to carry on without them. This is so small task.

As of now, ten lawsuits have been filed against the owners of the outdoor mall, where the killing spree took place.

Liability in the wake of a mass shooting

Of the ten known lawsuits, one is for wrongful death and nine involve personal injury claims. This raises many questions about who, exactly, is liable after a mass shooting. Every tragedy has unique factors requiring close examination by experienced attorneys, and at this point, it is too early to speculate about liability in the case of the tragedy on August 26th.

Instead, here are five examples where a shooting victim or their loved ones could pursue a case for either wrongful death or personal injury. This list is not exhaustive.

  • A school resource officer fails their duty to protect
  • Law enforcement ignored tips about the gunman
  • School administrators ignored mental health complaints or concerns
  • Building owners breached their duty of providing reasonable care
  • Survivors feel the gun manufacturers are to blame

Victims or their loved ones want nothing more than to turn back the hands of time. With that not being possible, it is reasonable to pursue compensatory or punitive damages. Compensatory damages cover medical expenses, time lost at work, or compensation for the physical or mental pain and suffering in the wake of the event. Punitive damages exist to punish the responsible party.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Keeping Outdoor Workers Safe During Winter

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]OSHA has listed some of the top hazards of winter outdoor work at its Winter Weather resource site. Employers in West Palm Beach, especially those whose employees might drive a snow blower or remove snow off roofs, will want to know what some of the organization’s safety tips are. The first step is to follow OSHA’s guidelines regarding personal protective equipment, hazard training and fall protection.

PPE should include things like insulated gloves, steel-toed boots and coats. Hazard training should cover specific tasks as well as orient any employees who come from areas with less severe winters. Guidelines for fall protection systems, ladders and aerial lifts must be followed. Ideally, workers who engage in roof snow removal should not have to go on the roof; they could instead apply de-icing materials from a ladder or use snow rakes and drag lines.

Employers should have a qualified employee inspect all vehicle systems, focusing on the brakes, exhaust, tires, oil and visibility systems. Vehicles should have winter windshield wipers installed. When snow blowers get jammed, workers should turn them off first and then use a long stick to clear out the snow and debris.

If workers need to remove trees or tree limbs in the snow, they should use powered equipment that’s designed for wet conditions. Again, PPE is essential, especially eye, ear and head protection.

Those who are injured on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation regardless of who, if anyone, was at fault. Victims may also opt for a lump-sum settlement instead; a lawyer may explain what the pros and cons are. Workers’ comp benefits might cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages, but victims can only file for them when they have reached maximum medical improvement.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]