In a Workers Compensation claim, there may come a time when an injured worker experiences financial distress due to the inability to work. If an injured employee is not working and the Employer/Carrier is not agreeing to provide wage benefits, the employee’s financial situation may cause difficulty in his or her ability to pay for everyday necessities and bills. If this is the case, an attorney may file for a lump sum advance on behalf of the employee requesting the Judge to approve a certain amount of money to be paid to the employee by the Employer/Carrier.
Pursuant to Workers of Florida v. Williams, 743 So. 2d 609, 610-611 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999), a Judge may grant a lump sum advance payment upon showing that an injured worker has suffered either a substantial loss of earning capacity or a physical impairment. Generally, the maximum amount that is requested on behalf of an injured worker is $2,000. One of the reasons this is so is because a Judge would be required to hold a hearing on the matter if the Employer/Carrier objects to the advance and the amount requested is more than $2,000. The Judge would need to find the following in order to grant an advance if this is the case: (1) the advance is in the injured workers’ best interest; (2) the advance will not materially prejudice the rights of the Employer/Carrier; and (3) the advance is reasonable under the circumstances. The amount requested for an advance is also usually $2,000 or less because the Florida Statutes do not require an inquiry into the potential for prejudice when the amount does not exceed $2,000. Another limitation on the amount that can be ordered by a Judge is from Florida Statutes Section 440.40(12)(d). According to this section of the Statutes, a Judge may not order an advance of more than $7,500 or 26 weeks of benefits in any 48 month period, whichever is greater.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Employer/Carrier is entitled to recoup the amount of a lump sum advance that was issued to an injured worker. Generally, if an injured worker is receiving wage benefits, the Employer/Carrier will reduce the amount of the checks by 20% until the full amount of the advance has been recovered. If however the injured employee is not receiving any indemnity benefits, the Employer/Carrier is entitled to recover the amount of the advance from the settlement of the case.
As you can see, a lump sum advance is one way to ease the financial burden on an injured worker in a Workers Compensation claim. Other options do exist which may help an injured worker that is going through a difficult financial situation. That is why it is important to hire a Workers Compensation attorney who handles these types of situations. If you were injured on the job or know of someone who was, have them give us a call at (844) 762-8155.