Circumstances sometimes present where a Florida workers’ compensation insurance company overpays an injured worker for one reason or another. Maybe they were unaware an injured worker began working and overpaid temporary partial disability benefits, or maybe they incorrectly over calculated the average weekly wage and paid benefits at a rate higher than obligated. In this situation, the injured worker will essentially owe the money back to the insurance company. The obvious question is: What happens if the injured worker doesn’t have the money to pay them back? Can the workers comp insurance company take the money they owe from future benefits?
Prior to 1993, overpayments made without a reasonable basis were considered gratuity. Essentially, if the error was on the part of the insurance company and there was no basis for it (just plain error), there was no right to recoup the overpayment.
Effective January 1, 1994, insurance companies can recover all overpayments, regardless as to why they were made. The law gives the carrier the right to recover overpaid amounts directly from the injured worker, or by deducting them from the injured worker’s compensation benefits. This applies only to indemnity benefits-not to medical benefits. Benefit deductions, however, are limited to 20 percent, The section provides [440.15(12), Fla. Stat. 2015]:
REPAYMENT.—If an employee has received a sum as an indemnity benefit under any classification or category of benefit under this chapter to which she or he is not entitled, the employee is liable to repay that sum to the employer or the carrier or to have that sum deducted from future benefits, regardless of the classification of benefits, payable to the employee under this chapter; however, a partial payment of the total repayment may not exceed 20 percent of the amount of the biweekly payment.
Christopher Smith, P.A. has represented injured workers throughout Florida since 1989.
The workers’ compensation laws have changed frequently over the last few decades, eroding the workers’ compensation benefits available to individuals hurt on-the-job. There is no obligation when you call us for a consultation, but it is important you discuss your workers’ compensation rights with a qualified lawyer immediately. Our attorneys have never represented any workers’ compensation insurance company. At our firm, an experienced Tampa workers’ compensation attorney will handle your case from start to finish.