“Major Contributing Cause” In Workplace Accidents
The majority of Florida employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the event that any of their employees are injured on the job. A specific cause of injury must be put forward when applying for benefits, and it must be shown that the workplace injury was the ‘major contributing cause’ of the employee being unable to work. This type of case can get extremely complex, so if you are concerned about your workers’ compensation benefits, consulting an attorney is often a good idea.
Immediate Cause vs Major Cause
Florida’s workers’ compensation operates in a no-fault system, which means that an employee does not have to establish that their employer was negligent in their injury, but they do have to establish a concrete cause of their injury. The law defines ‘major contributing cause’ as the cause of an injury that is at least 50 percent responsible for the harm the employee suffered. It is quite rare that an injury has only one factor playing into it, especially if the damage seems disproportionate to the injury suffered.
For example, if a waiter slips and falls on a wet restaurant floor, they might sustain any number of injuries, in varying degrees of severity. However, if they have a history of prior back problems, they might wind up with ruptured discs, nerve damage, or other serious injuries, because the past issues would have damaged the tissue and bones. The fall would have been the direct immediate cause of the waiter’s injury, but not necessarily the major contributing cause. Further medical investigation would be necessary.
You Have The Burden Of Proof
In a workers’ compensation case, if the employee’s past medical history becomes relevant, the employer’s insurer may refuse to pay until it is established that the work accident is the major contributing cause of the employee’s injury. Florida case law is fairly unequivocal in stating that the burden of proof is on the employee to establish that their past medical issues were not the major cause of their injury – as opposed to making them prove that the work accident was. If they do not have any past relevant medical history, the work accident is assumed to have been the major contributing cause by default.
Be advised that in Florida, if you receive workers’ compensation benefits, your employer has the right to choose your treating physician, which can directly impact any future workers’ compensation litigation you may have to experience. Some physicians are all too willing to blame any pre-existing condition for an employee’s injuries, especially if they have worked extensively with employers in the past. Be aware of your options and what to do if you are unjustly denied.
Call A Winter Park Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have been injured on the job, you have the right to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. However, you may still have to establish that you are entitled to them, especially if you have a past history of medical issues. Cases involving major contributing cause can be extraordinarily complex, so it is best to consult an attorney before going forward. The Winter Park workers’ compensation attorneys at the Hornsby Law Group are ready to try and assist you. Call our offices today to set up a free consultation.