A case came down from the First District Court of Appeal today that clarifies a timeliness issue when it comes to requests for cash advances in Florida Work Comp Cases. We have discussed Cash Advances in Florida Workers’ Compensation Cases in detail in a prior blog post. To order an advance, a Judge of Compensation Claims must determine whether the claimant falls into one of three categories:
(1) claimants who have not “returned to the same or equivalent employment with no substantial reduction in wages”;
(2) claimants who have “suffered a substantial loss of earning capacity”; or
(3) claimants who have suffered a “physical impairment. § 440.20(12)(c)(2)
This claimant must also show a connection between the indebtedness and the work injury. In the case that came down today, Mathis v. Broward County School Board, Case 15-2342, the judge denied the advance because there was no connection between being behind in bills and the work injury because the claimant was already behind in her bills when she made her request for an advance. The District Court of Appeal held:
“[U]nder the facts presented here, even if Claimant had returned to work immediately after making her request on March 25th, she was still without wages from March 17th through March 25th. Furthermore, Claimant, in reality, continued to experience a loss of wages from March 25th, the date of her request, through April 15th, the date she returned to work. Because Claimant’s indebtedness could only grow worse due to her loss of wages, the requisite nexus exists between the need for an advance and the workplace injury.”
The facts of this case address a common issue. There is a connection between the work injury and loss of income/indebtedness at a time PRIOR to making the request for advance, but NOT AT THE TIME the advance is requested. In my opinion, the DCA has made a common sense connection that the work injury caused the indebtedness, and even if the connection does not exist currently, the work injury certainly started or contributed to the indebtedness the claimant has at the time the request is made and that connection does not immediately end just because the individual goes back to work full duty.
If you have questions regarding cash advances in Florida Work Comp Cases or other workers’ compensation matters, please do not hesitate to reach out to one our work comp attorneys in Tampa, Florida. Our firm represents injured workers in Hillsborough and surrounding counties in West Central Florida. The firm has been fighting for the rights of injured workers since 1989; put our experience to work for you by calling for a free consultation at 813-931-1145.