Understanding Work Injury Claims
In Florida, most workers are covered under workers' compensation insurance. Filing a workers' compensation claim for benefits means that you agree not to sue your employer (except under exceptional circumstances) for any negligence that caused you harm. However, filing a workers' compensation claim does not mean that negligent third parties can't be held liable for your injury. You can file a workers' compensation claim and a third-party work injury claim simultaneously.
Read on to learn more about why third-party work injury claims differ from workers' compensation claims.
What is "Exclusive Remedy" Under Florida Workers' Compensation Laws?
"Exclusive remedy" means that an injured worker is not permitted to take further action in suing their employer for negligence under Florida workers' compensation laws. However, suppose the injury was caused by intentional harm or egregious circumstances by the employer or other employees. In that case, a special provision under Florida Statute 440.11 allows employees to file a negligence claim against their employer.
What is Third-Party Negligence?
Third-party negligence happens when a person or entity other than your employer is involved in causing your injury. A third-party liability claim can offer additional benefits besides workers' compensation to the injured person. In a wrongful death claim, eligible dependents of the deceased can also claim damages on behalf of their loved one who died due to their work injuries.
Who Can be Named in a "Third Party" Workplace Accident Claim?
Your employer is required to ensure a safe working environment for its employees. When working alongside other entities, these third parties must also ensure compliance with safety protocols. Some examples of entities that could be held liable for a workplace injury are:
- Owners of construction sites - When construction sites do not provide the proper safety equipment or a safe working environment, they could be held liable for a workplace accident that causes someone to sustain a severe injury.
- Architects and engineers - In some cases, an architect or engineer may be needed to oversee a construction project to ensure that all safety codes are being met during the project's progression. Depending on the contractual duties of the architect or engineer, they could be held responsible for an injury.
- General contractors (GCs) or sub-contractors - GCs and sub GCs must abide by safety rules under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When safety rules are ignored or not properly executed, it can be the catalyst to a severe injury for a worker.
- Manufacturers - Many workers depend on machinery and other tools to get their job done. However, if a defective device leads to an injury, the manufacturer can be held liable.
- Drivers - If a negligent driver is involved in a workplace accident, the driver, the vehicle owner, or the driver's employer could be named responsible for the accident that caused the injury.
While the above is more common in construction accident claims, even office workers who are injured on the job could pursue a third-party liability claim. For example, a building owner has not kept up with the maintenance of its flooring and causes someone who works in the building to trip and fall over broken tiles — or a painting contractor leaves obstacles such as paint cans or ladders where employees commonly walk and pose a tripping hazard.
What Can I Recover in a Third-Party Negligence Claim?
In addition to workers' compensation benefits, you may also pursue a third-party work accident claim. You may be able to recover the following economic and non-economic damages:
Economic losses may include the following related to your workplace injury:
- Medical expenses (hospital stays, doctor visits, treatments, and therapies)
- Value of domestic services (home cleaning, property maintenance, etc.)
- Lost wages (includes current and future lost earnings)
Non-economic damages may include the following related to your workplace injury:
- Pain and suffering (physical and emotional pain caused by your injury)
- Emotional distress (anxiety, grief, fear, shock, etc.)
- Loss of enjoyment of life (the impact on your daily activities that you once used to enjoy)
- Disability or disfigurement (scarring or other permanent disfigurements to your appearance)
- Loss of consortium (how the injury impacted your relationships or marriage)
Unlike medical bills, the above non-economic damages cannot be quantified and are subjective regarding compensation. Your attorney will assist you in ensuring you receive the maximum compensation for non-economic damages allowed under Florida laws.
Injured on the Job? We Are Here to Help.
When involved in a workplace accident that caused severe injuries, recovery can be long and stressful. In addition to healing from your injuries, the medical bills from doctor's visits, treatments, and therapies can put financial burdens on you and your family. When unsure where to turn for help after a workplace accident, our personal injury attorneys are ready to support you through a difficult time. We'll be in your corner, protecting your rights and giving you the support you need when pursuing the compensation you deserve.
Contact Rosenberg & Rosenberg, P.A. today at (888) 499-6206 to schedule a free consultation.