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Injured At Port?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides employment-injury and occupational-disease protection...Read more...

Heart and Lung Law

Firefighters and law enforcement or correctional officers; special provisions relative to disability... Read more...

Meet Your Attorney

Get to know more about Martin L. Leibowitz, a 30+ year legal veteran of workers' compensation law... Read more...

Don't Do It Alone

Workers' Compensation law is one of the most complex areas of the law. We provide representation that helps you navigate the legal options... Read more...

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides employment-injury and occupational-disease protection to approximately 500,000 workers who are injured or contract occupational diseases occurring on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas, and for certain other classes of workers covered by extensions of this Act including The Defense Base Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act and the District of Columbia Workmen's Compensation Act.

These benefits are paid directly by an authorized self-insured employer; or through an authorized insurance carrier; or, in particular circumstances, by a special fund administered directly by the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

If you have been injured on the job and need help determining if you are eligible for benefits under the The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act you won't have to pay to find out if we may be able to help. Simply fill out our free case evaluation form (above right) or give us a call and we can help you determine what your options may be according to the law.

 

Resources

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Heart & Lung Statute AND Workers’ Compensation Questions:

 

Q: How do you decide whether you will take my case?

We will review your case at no cost. If we believe we can be of service to you, we will meet with you and review the merits of your case. However, until a contract is signed, no attorney-client relationship will be established. *

 
Q: How do I pay for my legal fees and expenses?

We work on a contingency basis. As such, there are no fees or expenses unless we either win or settle your case. *

 
Q: What is a “First Responder”?

The term “first responder” as used in Section 112.18, Florida Statutes, means a law enforcement officer as defined in s. 943.10, a firefighter as defined in s. 633.102, or an emergency medical technician or paramedic as defined in s. 401.23 employed by state or local government. A volunteer law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician or paramedic engaged by the state or a local government is also considered a first responder of the state or local government. *

 
Q: What is the Florida Heart and Lung Statute?

The Heart and Lung Statute (§112.18) applies to correctional officers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers. The statute says that certain medical conditions, including heart disease and hypertension, are presumed (the "presumption") to be work related.*

 
Q: What costs does the Heart-Lung Statute cover?

Assuming you qualify for coverage, the statute requires your employer to pay for 100% of all medications, medical treatment, various percentages of  lost wages related to the treatment of your medical condition due to disability (temporary total, temporary partial and permanent total disability) and any permanent impairment you may have sustained. *

 
Q: Does the Heart-Lung Statute provide coverage if my heart disease or hypertension occurs after I retire?

Assuming the first responder was found to be covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act while still employed, benefits will continue after the date of retirement. However, a retired first responder may still be covered by the Heart-Lung statute’s presumption if he/she experienced heart problems and became disabled BEFORE retiring, notified the employer of his/her medical problem BEFORE retiring, and the employer failed to inform him/her that he/she was entitled to benefits under the Heart-Lung statute. 

But see Section 112.18(4), Florida Statutes: A law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer is not entitled to the presumption provided in this section unless a claim for benefits is made prior to or within 180 days after leaving the employment of the employing agency. *

 
Q: May I receive benefits under Workers’ Compensation and the Heart-Lung Statute?

Yes. You would actually receive Workers' Compensation benefits as a result of the Presumption of work-relatedness found in the Heart-Lung Statute. *

 
Q: Does the Heart & Lung Statute provide coverage if I have a heart attack or episode of high blood pressure while away from work?

Yes. A large number of Heart & Lung cases involve medical conditions that occur while first responders are away from the workplace. If you are employed, have passed your current employers’ pre-employment physical examination, and after being hired you developed hypertension or heart disease, became disabled and placed your employer on Notice of this within 90 days and prior to retirement, you may well be covered by Florida’s Heart & Lung Statute, regardless of where the condition occurred. *

 
Q: How much money may I receive in disability benefits?

The amount of weekly benefits which a first responder may receive is capped at 100% of pre-disability wages. However, cost-of-living adjustments, which occur after a person becomes permanently and totally disabled, are not subject to this cap. *

 
Q: Can I be fired for filing a claim against my employer or my employer’s insurance carrier?

No.   Section 440.205, Florida Statutes states:       Coercion of employees.—No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law.
History.s. 17, ch. 79-40; s. 43, ch. 89-289; s. 56, ch. 90-201; s. 52, ch. 91-1.

At the Law Office of Martin L. Leibowitz, we can help you in determining whether your claim for wrongful termination is actionable. *

 
Q. Can I settle my Workers’ Compensation case for cash?

Yes, the law allows for the voluntary settlement of workers’ compensation benefits through the payment of a lump-sum of cash if the parties mutually agree to do so, and all statutory requirements to do so are met.*

 
Q: What benefits can I secure under the Florida Workers’ Compensation system?

The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act provides lost wages due to temporary disability for up to 104 weeks, permanent impairment benefits based your percentage of permanent impairment, if any, medical benefits including medical treatment, prescriptions, durable medical supplies, and training and education (provided through the State of Florida), with up to 104 weeks of temporary disability benefits.*

 
Q: Can I be fired by my employer for applying for workers’ compensation?

Florida law specifically states that no employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law. The firing of employees for exercising their rights under the Act may give rise to a separate legal action against the employer. *

 
Q: How do I know whether I have a viable workers’ compensation claim?

Consult with an attorney who concentrates his/her practice in workers’ compensation law. The Law Firm of Martin L. Leibowitz, P.A., does not charge for consultation. *

 
Q: Am I required to pay taxes on my Workers’ Compensation benefits?

Generally no, however, whether this is correct under your specific circumstance(s) should be confirmed through a qualified Certified Public Accountant (CPA). *

 
Q: Is the employer responsible for payment if I wish to be seen by another doctor?

The employer is responsible for emergency medical services and if you choose to request a one-time change of physician pursuant to Section 440.13(2)(f), Florida Statutes. Depending on the circumstances, the employer may be responsible for expenses associated with a second opinion if it is established to be medically necessary and for additional medical care providers to whom the injured worker is referred by an authorized treating physician. You should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in order to protect your rights regarding your employer’s payment for your medical treatment. The Law Firm of Martin L. Leibowitz, P.A., does not charge for consultation. *

 
Q: What injuries, diseases or illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation benefits generally apply to injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment, including a previous injury or illness which has been aggravated by the employee’s work where the work accident is the “major contributing cause” of the need for treatment. Injuries which are caused by repetitive trauma, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are covered. *

 
Q: Can my employer ask me to submit to an examination by its own physician?

Yes, you can be required to submit to an Independent Medical Examination, but such an examination must be completed at the employer’s expense, including mileage and accommodations depending on the circumstances. If applicable, the employer is responsible for payment of the employee’s time lost from employment for the doctor’s examination. *

 
Q: How long after my injury should I report it to my employer?

Injuries should be reported as soon as possible, but in no event later than 30 days after the date of your accident. In the case of an occupational disease (heart disease, high blood pressure, tuberculosis, etc.), the Employee’s First Report of Injury must be completed before 90 days have passed after the date the employee becomes disabled. *

 
Q: How do I pay for an attorney to represent me regarding my workers’ compensation claim?

You will be charged a fee only when a recovery is made on your behalf. Details are provided in the written attorney/client agreement form that you will be asked to sign when you retain legal counsel. Be certain to read the agreement carefully, and ask any questions you may have about the agreement at the time of signing. *

 
Q: Do all Florida employers have workers’ compensation insurance?

Employers with four or more employees, part-time or full-time, are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, however, employers with less than four employees may voluntarily  carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.*

 
Q: When should I retain counsel to represent me regarding my workers’ compensation claim?

Martin L. Leibowitz, P.A., recommends you immediately retain legal counsel specializing in workers’ compensation law after you are injured. Your attorney will guide you through the claims process and assist you in obtaining the benefits to which you are entitled under Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act. *

 
Q: Does the workers’ compensation system allow a claimant to secure medical benefits?

Yes, including medical treatment, prescriptions, durable medical supplies which are medically reasonable and necessary, including treatment by specialty physicians and other health care providers who are not physicians, and diagnostic testing. *

 
Q: Should I ever use my group health insurance instead of workers’ compensation?

Generally no. Group health insurance policies do not pay for work-related injuries, and a workers’ compensation insurance carrier is not obligated to follow the instructions of a doctor you obtain on your own, and who has not been authorized to treat you by the workers' compensation insurance carrier/servicing agent/third party administrator. While there are limited situations in which using your group health insurance policy may be appropriate and necessary, before doing so you should first determine whether your group health insurance carrier can assert a lien in your workers’ compensation case based on statute and/or your health insurance contract, and consult with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney. *

 
Q: What should my workers’ compensation lawyer do for me?

Your lawyer should assist you in the filing of your Petition(s) for Benefits with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims, and ensure that you receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act. This may include the taking of depositions of doctors involved in your medical care, insurance adjusters directing your medical care and the payment/non-payment of disability benefits and other fact witnesses. *

 
Q: Can I select my own doctor or hospital?

No, except in very specific circumstances. Generally, the law provides the first choice of your physician to the workers' compensation insurance carrier/servicing agent/third party administrator. An injured worker is, however, entitled to a one-time change of physician per case (NOT per specialty). *

 

*DISCLAIMER

The foregoing observations are made available for educational and informational purposes only, are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date, and are not legal advice. Receipt of this information does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship, and no one should act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. These observations are not like a communication with a lawyer with whom you have an attorney-client relationship along with all the privileges that relationship provides. Please be aware that if you communicate with my office by e-mail or otherwise in connection with a matter for which we do not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential. If you communicate with us by e-mail in connection with a matter for which we already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential. If you communicate with us by e-mail in connection with a matter for which we already represent you, please remember that Internet e-mail is not secure, and you may wish to take steps to encrypt sensitive or confidential materials before sending them via the Internet. Deadlines are extremely important in most legal matters. You may lose important legal rights if you do not hire an attorney immediately to advise you regarding your legal needs. Many people, including many attorneys, do not check their e-mail daily, and some attorneys do not respond to unsolicited e-mail from non-clients.

Martin L. Leibowitz, P.A. shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Attorney Profile

Attorney ProfileMartin L. Leibowitz has over 30 years of legal experience in the Representation of Injured Employees and Employers under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act, including Florida's Heart and Lung Statute. Throughout this time, Mr. Leibowitz has held an “AV rating,” the highest possible peer-based rating awarded by Martindale-Hubbell®, a company which facilitates peer evaluation of United States lawyers. Mr. Leibowitz has been further honored since 1988 with his inclusion in Martindale-Hubbell’s® prestigious Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers.

Mr. Leibowitz is also the creator of the Workers’ Compensation present value calculation software program, Projected Indemnity Exposure (PIE). He has been certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Court Mediator, has been certified as a Workers’ Compensation Mediator since 1996 and, in 2004, was a member of the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) Rules Committee. Mr. Leibowitz has served as a guest lecturer at numerous continuing legal education seminars, where he has given presentations on a variety of issues related to Workers’ Compensation, and has taught review courses for other attorneys seeking certification in the area of Workers’ Compensation. He was also nominated by the Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission to the Governor for selection as a Florida Judge of Compensation Claims.

 

Practice Areas

Insurance Defense – Representation of Employers/Carriers/Servicing Agents (Third Party Administrators);

Representation of Injured Employees including Heart and Lung Statute cases (Representing Correctional Officers, Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters);

Social Security Disability; and

Workers’ Compensation Private Mediations.

 

Sample Case Outcomes

View Sample Case Outcomes

 

Education

Juris Doctor, University of Miami, 1981
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of Florida, 1977

 

Court Admissions

U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida, 2009
Middle District of Florida, 2006
United States Supreme Court, 1990
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 1983
Admitted to The Florida Bar in 1982

 

Accolades

Best of Jacksonville Profile Series, Folio Magazine, August 7, 2012 Issue
Legal Eagles Part II, Jacksonville Magazine’s “904″, 2011
Top Lawyers of 2010, Jacksonville Magazine’s “904″, 2010
Emeritus Member, Workers’ Compensation Section of The Florida Bar 2008
The Chair’s Award, Workers’ Compensation Section of The Florida Bar 2007
Admitted to Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Pre-Eminent Lawyers 1998 to present
Member, Executive Council of the Workers’ Compensation Section of The Florida Bar; 1992 to present
“av” Rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
University of Florida Hall of Fame, elected 1978
Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, elected 1977
Florida Blue Key, elected 1976
Omicron Delta Kappa, elected 1976

 

Professional & Bar Association Memberships

American Inns of Court, 2012
United States Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida, 2009
Executive Council of the Workers’ Compensation Section of the Florida Bar (Member 1992 to present; Treasurer 1996 to 2001; Chair 2002-2003; Designated Emeritus Member 2008)
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, 1983
United States Supreme Court, 1990
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 1983
The Florida Bar, admitted 1982;

 

Honor Societies & Fraternities

Florida Blue Key
Omicron Delta Kappa
Tau Epsilon Phi

 

Work Experience

Partner at Coker, Myers, Schickel & Sorenson, P.A. 1983 – 1996
Assistant State Attorney at State Attorney’s Offfice in Duval & Clay Counties, FL 1981 – 1983

 

Community Activities

North Florida Council, BSA Executive Board 2005 – present
Committee Chairman Troop 12, BSA, 2001 – 2005
North Florida Council, Riverbend District Chairman, BSA, 2002 – 2004
Committee Chairman Pack 12, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) 1996 – 2001

 

Publications & Presentations

The Truth About Florida’s Heart / Lung Statute" by Martin L. Leibowitz, Esquire;

“Enforcement of the Compensation Judge’s Order; Certification of Contempt and Rule Nisi – A Practitioner’s Roadmap”, co-authored with the Honorable David Langham, Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims, 2009;

“What Firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers and Correctional Officers Should Know About Workers’ Compensation Benefits & Florida’s Heart & Lung (PRESUMPTION) Statute (High Blood Pressure & Heart Disease)”, 2007;

“New World Order: Surviving 2003 Changes”, Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Committee (CLE) and the Workers’ Compensation Section, 2003;

Attorney’s Fees, Indemnity Benefits, Present Value of Future Benefits Calculations, Online Medical and Legal Research, 2000;

“Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Section, Ask What Your Section Can Do For You“, News and 440 Report, The Florida Bar, 2000;

Guest Editor of the News and 440 Report, The Florida Bar, 2000 and 1996;

Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education “Hot Summer Topics”, 2000;

“Arising out of and in the Course of Employment Cases including ‘Going and Coming Rule’, Traveling Employee Doctrine, Deviation from Employment and Lunch Time Accidents”; Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Certification Review Course Faculty, 1991, 1992.

Mediation Services

 

Mediation Generally:

Mediation is often considered one of the most useful tools within the Workers’ Compensation system and is mandated by statute for all Workers’ Compensation cases (see §440.25, F.S. and Rules 60Q-6.110, 6.111 and 6.112, F.A.C.). A mediation is an informal meeting attended by the claimant, a representative of the employer or the employer’s insurance carrier, and each party’s attorney. A neutral third party known as a mediator also attends the meeting and facilitates discussions between the parties.

Workers’ Compensation Mediators are required to abide by the Florida Rules for Certified & Court-Appointed Mediators.  The Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee provides written advisory opinions to mediators subject to these rules in response to ethical questions arising from the Standards of Professional Conduct.  Such opinions must be consistent with Florida Supreme Court decisions on mediator discipline.

The mediator’s goal is to resolve the parties’ disputes at this informal meeting before the case proceeds to trial. The mediator does not have the power to decide the dispute or force either party to agree. Instead, the mediator’s sole purpose is to help both parties come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

However, if the parties are unable to settle their disputes regarding the benefits claimed in the petition for benefits, the mediator must file a report to the judge of compensation claims (JCC), stating that the parties attended mediation but were unable to resolve their dispute. Under Florida law, the mediator is unable to provide any other information as to what occurred at mediation.

 

Mediation versus Trial

There are advantages to mediation over the traditional approach of taking your case to trial. For instance, the Mediation process takes much less time than moving a case through the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC), which  may take up to 210 days, or seven (7) months, assuming no continuances are granted, or even years if they are. Mediating cases resolves issues and leads to settlement, usually in one day, costs much less money, and results in less stress and anxiety for everyone.

Further, what happens in Mediation stays in Mediation. In other words, Mediation is statutorily mandated to be a confidential process. For the most part, court hearings are public record, so virtually anyone can learn what took place. On the other hand, what occurs during a Workers’ Compensation Mediation remains strictly confidential. Only the parties to the dispute, and the Workers’ Compensation Mediator, know what has been said during the mediation conference. Moreover, the private Mediator cannot be forced to give testimony as to details of the Mediation.

Unlike a JCC ruling, Mediation offers the parties the opportunity to customize the terms of their agreement to resolve the issues or even the case. In contrast, the JCC’s ruling is imposed on the parties, leaving the parties with a choice; accept the ruling or appeal the case and spend more time and money in court. In a Mediation, the parties negotiate the resolution of their dispute, and the resolution need not conform to any law or rule, and sometimes are of a nature which a JCC cannot offer. Therefore, in many cases, Mediation produces a mutually agreeable resolution of issues for the parties. Importantly, pursuant to statute and case law, a mediated agreement is fully enforceable by the JCC.

Finally, Workers’ Compensation Mediation takes place under the auspices of a trained mediator who is certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a Circuit Civil Mediator and acts as a neutral third party during the process. Martin Leibowitz is a seasoned Workers’ Compensation lawyer with 32 years of experience in representing both insurance carriers/TPA's/Servicing Agents and injured Employees and trained in conflict resolution. Mr. Leibowitz prides himself on navigating both the factual and emotional aspects of every case. While no legal advice is provided, as required by applicable rules, he will guide the parties through the dispute resolution process, raising pertinent issues and suggesting alternative solutions to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution of the conflict. Mr. Leibowitz also encourages the parties to think “outside the box” in considering solutions, thereby enabling them to move in the direction that suits them best.

 

Mediation Philosophy

In a nutshell, the process of Workers’ Compensation Mediation is the informal negotiated resolution of conflict involving one’s legal rights, where all parties are equally heard and respected. Martin Leibowitz’s philosophy is that injured employees and their employers can achieve the resolution of Workers’ Compensation issues and disputes when facilitated by a Mediator’s skilled guidance.

 

Biographical Notes:

Martin L. Leibowitz has been a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Court Mediator and qualified to serve as a Workers’ Compensation Mediator for over 19 years.  Having served as legal counsel to both injured workers and workers’ compensation insurance carriers/TPA's/Servicing Agents, Mr. Leibowitz is able to effectively address the interests of all parties, while facilitating discussion and helping work toward a common resolution of individual issues or the case in its entirety.

Please contact the Law Office of Martin L. Leibowitz, P.A. to inquire into mediator availability and fees.

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