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Understanding Florida’s Presumption of Occupational Causation


Obtaining workers’ compensation benefits may sound like something that should be relatively easy. After all, if you were injured at work during the course of your employment, you should be able to obtain benefits. However, the truth is that some injuries are much more difficult to link to your workplace and obtain benefits for than others. Florida legislators recognized this and enacted a statute to afford a presumption of occupational causation for certain injuries for people who work in certain professions.

What is the Law?

Section 112.18 of the Florida Statutes created an exception to the traditional workers’ compensation claim in Florida. This statute stipulates that there is a rebuttable presumption of occupational causation for identified conditions for certain police officers, firefighters, and correctional officers who meet certain prerequisites. These conditions include tuberculosis, heart disease, and hypertension. In order to fall under the presumption, the condition must onset severely enough that it that ends up resulting in either a total or partial disability or death. Further, in order to recover, the person attempting benefits under the presumption must have passed a physical examination upon entering into service which failed to reveal any evidence of the disabling disease.

What is the Purpose of This Statute?

It is difficult to obtain workers’ compensation for certain kinds of workplace injuries, including heart-related issues. This statute is rooted in public policy and is designed to offer added legal protection for police, fireman and correctional officers who suffer with certain injuries that it might otherwise be difficult to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for.

Is the Presumption Absolute?

No, the statute explicitly states that the presumption is a rebuttable one and Florida courts have affirmed that. For example, Florida courts have suggested that:

  • The presumption is dispositive unless rebutted by medical evidence. See Fuller v. Okaloosa Corr. Inst., 22 So. 3d 803, 806 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009).
  • The presumption can also be rebutted by proof of a specific “combination of wholly non-industrial causes.” Punsky v. Clay Cnty. Sheriff’s Office, 18 So. 3d 577, 583-84 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009).

What Kind of Factors Might an Employer’s Insurance Company Attempt to Use to Deny Your Claim?

  • You only worked on the job for only a short time
  • Your disease developed prior to holding the position you could claim the position for
  • You only held a desk job or some other position that would be free from the stress of normal duties

Allow Us to Help.

If you are a police officer, firefighter, or correctional officer who has suffered from one of the occupational disease outlined above, your injury may be presumed to have been caused by your employment and there is a good chance that you will be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. The experienced Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates can answer your questions relating to occupational diseases and help you pursue your rights to help ensure that you maximize your claim. Begin by contacting us today to schedule a free consultation.


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