Harris & Riviere Frequently Asked Questions

Are you struggling to access disability benefits, seek workers’ comp, or recover damages after an accident? If you do not know where to start, our team at Harris & Riviere is happy to offer knowledgeable guidance. Our compassionate lawyers have over 75 years of combined legal experience and can answer your frequently asked questions about these processes. If your specific concerns are not addressed below, do not hesitate to call (813) 669-2080 or contact us online to request a free initial consultation.

"We couldn't be happier with our results. I would recommend Harris & Riviere to anyone. They answered all our calls and explained every step."

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Click through the practice area topics to the right to read answers to popular questions.

  • Personal Injury

    • Can I Still File a Personal Injury Claim If an Accident Was Partially My Fault in Florida?
      Yes, but any share of the blame will limit what you can recover. Florida follows pure comparative negligence rules, meaning the jury will evaluate any allegations of shared negligence. You will be assigned a percentage of fault, and your damage award will ultimately be reduced by this amount. If your damages totaled $100,000 and the court determines you are 30% at fault, for example, you will recover $70,000. Unlike some other states, you can still recover some damages even if you are more than 50% at fault.
    • Do All Personal Injury Claims Go to Court?
      No. Many (if not most) personal injury claims are settled before they go to a jury trial. Even if your legal representative cannot negotiate a fair settlement, your claim may be resolved through court-ordered mediation, voluntary mediation, or arbitration.
    • What Damages Can I Recover in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit?
      You can potentially recover compensation for both “economic” and “non-economic” damages in Florida. Economic damages have a dollar amount attached to them and include medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, property damage, and other out-of-pocket costs. Non-economic damages have a more subjective value and include loss of consortium, pain, and suffering.
    • Do I Have a Slip and Fall Claim in Florida?
      To win a slip and fall lawsuit, you must prove the property owner was liable for your injuries. Property owners have a legal obligation to keep their properties free from dangerous hazards, including slick surfaces. You will need to demonstrate the property owner knew or reasonably should have known about the dangerous hazard and negligently failed to resolve it. You may not necessarily have a slip and fall case if there was signage warning you about the condition, there is evidence you were not paying attention in the moments before your fall, or you were in a place you were not supposed to be.
    • When Is a Pet Owner Liable for a Dog Bite in Florida?
      In Florida, a pet owner does not have to act negligently to be liable for a dog bite. You may be entitled to bring a personal injury claim against the dog owner if their animal bit you in a public place (or any location where you had permission to be) and did not provoke the dog. Unlike in some other states, the owner does not need to have previously known about their dog’s potential for violent behavior.
    • How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Florida?
      In most cases, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida. If someone dies in an accident, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s passing to pursue a wrongful death claim. Missing these deadlines means you will probably be unable to recover any damages.
    • What Should I Do after an Accident Caused by Someone Else’s Negligence?
      If you are injured in an accident that was not your fault, you should take steps to protect your right to recover compensation. If your accident was work-related and your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, report the incident and your injuries to your employer right away. If you were involved in a car accident, slip and fall, or some other accident that does not involve your workplace, you should document what happened as much as possible. Take photos of the accident scene, collect contact information from all involved parties and witnesses, and avoid admitting fault. See your doctor soon after the accident and closely follow their prescribed treatment plan. Do not make any statements to anyone, including your insurance company or the defendant’s legal representatives, until you have spoken to a legal professional. Get in touch with our attorneys to discuss your legal options.
  • Workers' Compensation

    • When Will I Start Receiving Workers’ Comp Checks in Florida?
      In most cases, you will start receiving checks approximately 21 days after you report the workplace accident to your employer.
    • Can My Boss Fire Me for Reporting a Workplace Accident?
      No. It is against the law for any employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting a work-related accident. Examples of retaliation include wrongful termination, demotion, reductions in pay, reductions in hours, unfavorable relocations, unfavorable reassignments, and unjustified performance reviews. If you believe your boss has retaliated against you for reporting your injuries, you should immediately get in touch with an employment lawyer.
    • What Should I Do If My Boss Refuses to Report an Accident to the Insurance Company?
      You can report the accident to the insurance company yourself, but in these cases, it is in your best interest to consult with a legal professional. We can review your circumstances and help you take action.
    • When Should I Report a Work-Related Injury to My Boss in Florida?
      You should always report a workplace injury to your employer as soon as you can. If you wait longer than 30 days for any reason, your workers’ compensation claim may be denied.
    • Does My Florida Employer Have to Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
      Not always. Florida employers with fewer than four employees are not legally required to provide workers’ compensation coverage to employees. Employers with four or more employees must carry a workers’ comp policy. If you are injured in a workplace accident resulting from your employer’s negligence and your employer does not carry workers’ comp insurance, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for medical expenses and other losses.
  • Social Security

    • My SSDI or SSI Application Was Denied. Now What?
      Get in touch with our attorneys at Harris & Riviere as soon as possible. You will typically only have 60 days from the date you are notified of the denial to request an appeal. We can quickly review your case and walk you through your options.
    • Why Was My SSDI or SSI Application Denied?

      First, it is important to recognize that a staggering number of legitimate Social Security applications are denied each year. In fact, a majority of claims are initially denied. Do not give up hope: Many individuals secure favorable decisions through appeals. Still, there are certain things you should keep in mind to reduce the odds of a denial.

      Some of the most common reasons Social Security applications are denied include:

      • Too many resources. Applicants seeking SSI benefits must not exceed strict income or asset limits. If you make too much or have too much property, you will not qualify, and your application will be denied.
      • Not enough work credits. Applicants requesting SSDI benefits must have a sufficient number of work credits for their age group. Retirement-age applicants will generally need 40 work credits, but younger applicants who can no longer work due to a qualifying disability may need less. Your application will not be approved if you do not have enough work credits.
      • Not enough medical evidence. You must provide an exhaustive level of documentation to prove you have a qualifying disability that prevents you from working for at least one year (or is expected to result in your death). Your application will be rejected if the person evaluating your application is not convinced you have a qualifying disability.
      • Failure to follow treatment advice. If an SSA examiner or DDS believes you did not follow your doctor’s treatment plan, they will most likely deny your application.
      • Failure to follow instructions. During the application process, an SSA examiner or DDS may reach out requesting additional evidence or information. They may also ask you to attend one or more medical appointments. If you ignore or do not honor these requests, your application will most likely be denied.
    • My Doctor Says I Am Disabled. Is That Enough to Qualify for SSDI or SSI Benefits?
      Unfortunately, no. The SSA will perform its own review based on the documentation and evidence you provide with your application. You may also need to submit to one or more medical examinations (at no cost to you) ordered by a disability examiner. While you have the right to refuse these examinations, doing so will most likely result in the denial of your application.
    • What Is Considered a Qualifying Disability?

      To qualify for either Social Security program, your medical condition must be “severe” and prevent you from working most types of jobs. This disability must also be expected to last for at least one year or result in death. Though the SSA does maintain a list of qualifying disabilities, determining whether your condition meets the agency’s definition can still be confusing. We can assess your circumstances and advise whether your disability is likely to qualify for SSDI and/or SSI benefits.

      Examples of qualifying disabilities include:

      • Blindness
      • Cancer
      • Cardiovascular disorders
      • Digestive system disorders
      • Hematological disorders
      • Immune system disorders
      • Mental disorders
      • Neurological disorders
      • Respiratory disorders
    • How Long Does It Take for My SSDI or SSI Application to Be Accepted or Denied?
      Processing times can vary, but most SSDI or SSI applicants will receive an initial decision within three to five months. However, this may be only the beginning of the process if your application is denied, as there are additional processing times and other waits for each step of the reconsideration and appeals process. Our lawyers can help you avoid unnecessary processing delays by ensuring all pertinent information is included with your application. We also encourage you to review our page that reviews options for speeding up your claim.
    • Do Work Credits Expire?
      No. Any work credits you earn will automatically remain on your Social Security record. Even if you stop working for an extended period of time, you get to keep the work credits you earned up to that point. You will resume accumulating work credits once you return to work.
    • How Many Work Credits Do I Need to Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

      The answer will depend on when you are attempting to obtain SSDI benefits. Generally, the younger you are when you become disabled, the fewer work credits you will need. If you are retirement age, you will need 40 work credits.

      In 2022, you receive one work credit for every $1,510 you earn. This rate is adjusted annually. Keep in mind that you can only earn up to four work credits per year, meaning you will need to work for at least a decade to obtain 40 work credits.

    • What Is the Difference between Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income?

      Both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and provide monetary benefits to qualifying individuals. While they may sound similar, the eligibility requirements for each program are different.

      To qualify for SSDI, you must have a qualifying disability and have enough “work credits.” You automatically earn work credits by working and paying Social Security taxes.

      To be eligible for SSI, you must have a qualifying disability or be at least 65 years old. You must also have little to no income or assets.

      It is possible to qualify for both SSDI and SSI. Our legal professionals can review your unique circumstances and determine your eligibility for each program.

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