final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
of Accident: December 14, 2014.
appeal from an order of the Judge of Compensation Claims.
Lliana Forte, Judge.
McCabe, Longwood, and Robert Winess, Boca Raton, for
Marybell Rajo of Pyszka, Blackmon, Levy, Kelley & Rajo,
Fort Lauderdale, for Appellees.
workers' compensation appeal, Claimant challenges the
order issued by the Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC)
denying her request for a $2, 000 advance pursuant to section
440.20(12)(c), Florida Statutes, because she failed to
establish a financial need for the advance. Claimant contends
that, because the stated purpose for the advance was to pay
for an independent medical examination (IME) in support of a
pending claim for continued medical treatment, the JCC should
not have considered her lack of financial need. As explained
below, we disagree with Claimant and affirm the order denying
is a deputy sheriff who suffered a compensable injury in
2014. She was out of work for two two-week periods and then
on light duty for approximately nine months before ultimately
returning to full duty. She has at least a one percent
permanent impairment rating.
2017, Claimant filed a petition for benefits seeking
continued medical care and a $2, 000 advance. Several months
later, Claimant filed a separate motion for a $2, 000 advance
to pay the expenses of an IME. At the hearing on the motion,
Claimant testified that her base salary was $75, 000 per
year, which she augmented by overtime in the form of off-duty
security details. Claimant further testified that she was
unable to work these details during her various periods of
being out of work or having work restrictions, but she
acknowledged that for the two years preceding the petition,
the only effect on her income was due to her two pregnancies
(she was on her second maternity leave at the time of the
hearing), not her work injury.
employer/carrier opposed the request for an advance, arguing
among other things that Claimant did not show a financial
need for the advance. Claimant responded that she was not
required to prove financial need because she established
eligibility for an advance based on her impairment rating and
the fact that the purpose of the advance was to pay the
expenses of an IME to support her pending petition for
benefits. The JCC rejected Claimant's "novel
argument" and denied the motion for an advance because
she failed to present evidence that her income was
insufficient to pay for an IME nor did she otherwise
demonstrate a financial need for the advance.
concerning advances are typically reviewed for an abuse of
discretion. See ESIS/Ace Am. Ins. Co. v. Kuhn, 104
So.3d 1111, 1113-14 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014). Here, however,
because the issue before us - what a JCC may consider when
deciding whether to award an advance - is a legal one, our
review is de novo. See Lombardi v. S. Wine &
Spirits, 890 So.2d ...