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Lakeland Legal Issues Blog

Can you get a second opinion in your workers' comp case?

When you sustain an injury on the job, you expect your Florida employer to compensate you for said injury. However, before workers' compensation kicks in, you must undergo a medical exam performed by an employer-approved physician. That physician must confirm two things: 1) that you sustained an injury and 2) that you sustained said injury on the job. If the physician reports findings that say any differently, you will not qualify for workers' comp. You may wonder if you can combat adverse findings with a second opinion. The Legal Examiner explains that you can, but doing so will not be easy. 

In The Sunshine State, if you lose confidence in your initial physician, you have two options: Request a one-time change in doctors or pay up to $2,500 for an independent medical exam from a doctor of your choosing. Per F.S. 440.13(2)(f), you may request a change in physicians just once during your case without penalty. Once you make a change, however, you cannot request another. Though this may seem like good news, know that you do not get to select the new physician — your employer does. Unfortunately, workers' comp doctors often work for the insurer, so it is unlikely the new doctor's findings will differ much from those of the first doctor.

Know your toxic exposure procedures

Most workplaces have some types of chemicals or substances that can be toxic and dangerous, regardless of industry. At the law office of Kaylor, Kaylor & Leto, P.A., we know that you do not have to work in a chemical engineering plant to face chemical hazards on the job. Even the cleaning supplies in your office broom closet can harm you if you are not prepared on how to handle them or your workplace lacks information on proper use and first aid procedures.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, your employer should have material safety data sheets (MSDS) on each kind of chemical substance used in your workplace. Additionally, each container of chemicals should be accurately labeled, and employees should be provided training on how to use them. For example, many restaurants and cleaning companies use concentrated solutions that should be properly diluted before they are safe to use. Failing to dilute the solution enough could result in skin burns or lung damage from inhalation.

Disability is different when the condition is short-term

As many residents of Florida and elsewhere understand, Social Security Disability benefits exist to cover people’s living expenses if they become disabled and have worked long enough to contribute to the Social Security program. However, what if one becomes disabled and unable to work for a short time and expects to recover? Does Social Security make allowances for these situations?

As the Social Security Administration explains, disabilities that are eligible for benefits must be expected to last at least one year or result in death, as well as completely render someone unable to work. Therefore, short-term disabilities do not fall under the SSA’s jurisdiction.

What constitutes religious discrimination?

Whether you adhere to a strict set of religious beliefs, if you consider yourself spiritual but not religious or if you do not believe in any higher power, your beliefs are important to you. It can feel like an emotional and intellectual attack if other people infringe on your beliefs. Some Florida residents experience significant emotional trauma or financial hardship if their religious beliefs are discriminated against at work or while applying for jobs.

People’s religious and spiritual beliefs are protected by employment law, explains the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. There are many ways employers or co-workers can violate religious discrimination laws and create a hostile or offensive work environment to those of certain faiths. What exactly is religious discrimination, you may wonder? The following examples can help explain:

  • Making an adverse decision, such as firing, demoting or not hiring someone, solely based on his or her religious beliefs
  • Allowing people to make offensive remarks about another worker’s religion
  • Not making reasonable accommodations to respect a staff member’s religious holidays, food restrictions, clothing, prayers, morals and ethics or other practices
  • Segregating employees based on their religious beliefs

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Floridian workers like you may not realize that the workplace can be dangerous regardless of what your job actually is. Kaylor, Kaylor & Leto, are here today to examine one of the most common types of injury that can happen to just about anyone: carpal tunnel syndrome.

When people think of workplace injuries, they often think of catastrophic accidents. However, most average workers tend to suffer from more "mundane" issues that build up over a long period of time. These are typically known as repetitive stress injuries, and they can happen to anyone who performs the same tasks day in and out. This includes people who work construction or in dangerous plants. It also affects office workers, who often spend their days typing or answering phone calls.

Mild brain injuries can cause long-term damage

Many people may have been involved in a situation where they received a slight jolt to the head while on-the-job, whether by being involved in slip-and-fall accident or by having an object fall on their head. Although some of these incidents may seem minor, even small matters involving a hit to the head can result in traumatic brain injuries. Mild cases of TBI may go undetected, as the symptoms often involve headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, muscle weakness and fatigue, which can often be signs of other common conditions, such as the flu. Yet, studies show that even mild brain injuries can cause long-term damage if left untreated and could make it difficult for people to work in the type of position they once did.

A study published in the medical journal Neurology studied patients affected by mild traumatic brain injuries. While moderate to severe brain injury cases are often visible on a regular CAT scan or MRI, mild cases are harder to diagnose. A method known as diffusion tensor imaging can, however, pick up abnormalities in the white matter of the brain, which is where mild brain injuries occur. Discoloration in the brain’s white matter shows potential areas of mild TBI and helps physicians understand what type of treatments are necessary.

Can I get workers’ comp benefits for mental health issues?

Many workers in the Lakeland area are not aware they may receive workers’ compensation benefits when they hurt themselves in accidents on the job. An even greater number of employees do not realize workers’ compensation does not just encompass physical injuries, it also covers certain mental health issues that arise from a related physical injury. The workplace can affect employee mental health and have a significant impact on worker safety. Workers who suffer extreme psychological changes as a result of a physical injury that interferes with their daily lives may receive workers’ compensation benefits for their mental duress. 

Stressful environments that include long work hours, heavy workloads, discrimination, violence and poor management have a significant impact on employee safety and health. Some workers are more susceptible to the effects of working in stressful environments and unexpectedly develop severe psychological responses in the form of stress, anxiety and depression that increases the risk of accidents and injuries. 

On disability? Watch what you post online

As a Florida resident who receives, or plans to apply to receive, disability benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration, you should know that the government is considering ramping up its efforts to catch those engaging in disability fraud. At Kaylor, Kaylor & Leto, P.A., we are well-versed in this and many other issues relating to disability benefits, and we have helped many people in your shoes figure out what it takes to qualify for these benefits and retain them long-term.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the current presidential administration is proposing that the government increase its efforts to curb disability fraud by reviewing the social media accounts and profiles of Americans who receive disability benefits. It is a controversial proposal, but those supporting it believe that the government would be able to more easily identify those obtaining disability benefits through unethical means by tracking their habits online.

The link between firefighting and cancer

When you think about the dangers associated with your Florida firefighting career, you may concern yourself primarily with the immediate risks that come with making your way into burning buildings to help the people inside. Unfortunately, though, many of the health risks you face as a firefighter can affect you slowly, over time, and cancer, in particular, is one such concern. At Kaylor, Kaylor & Leto, P.A, we understand that firefighters face heightened risks of developing many forms of cancer, and we have helped many people who suffered work-related injuries or illnesses seek recourse in the aftermath.

Per the National Fire Protection Association, you are 14% more likely to suffer a cancer-related death when you work as a firefighter then you would be as a member of the general population who does not fight fires. As a firefighter, you are also 9% more likely than the general population to have a doctor diagnose you with cancer, but there are several protective and preventative measures you can take to help decrease your cancer risk.

Age discrimination often a barrier for older workers

While recent college graduates sometimes struggle to find gainful employment in Florida and across the United States, they are not the only ones experiencing this hardship. In fact, the state and nation’s older workers are increasingly feeling as if their age is a barrier to finding employment, and research shows that they are unfortunately correct in their convictions. At Kaylor, Kaylor & Leto, P.C., we know that there are laws in place preventing employers from discriminating against you due to your being 40 or older, and we have helped many Florida victims of age discrimination seek appropriate recourse.

According to AARP, age discrimination has become such a pervasive problem in this country that jobseekers 35 and over assert that their age is the single biggest hurdle keeping them from finding work. Furthermore, two-thirds of Americans between 45 and 74 claim they have been victims of work-related age discrimination, highlighting just how widespread the issue has become.

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