Regardless of the industry in which you earn your living, your employer has likely told you that the only way to recover financial losses after a workplace injury is through the Florida workers' compensation insurance system. Authorities call this the exclusive remedy rule, meaning that your boss will carry insurance to cover the medical expenses and lost income resulting from an on-the-job injury -- regardless of who was at fault.
However, your employer will likely tell you that you may not pursue any other source of compensation. While this is a firm rule in most states, there are exceptions. Learning more about them may give you additional financial relief if you suffer injuries under certain circumstance.
Other potential recovery options
If you suffer workplace injuries in some situations, you might have grounds to file a lawsuit against your employer in addition to -- or instead of -- a workers' compensation benefits claim. The following circumstances might allow such action:
- No insurance: If your employer fails to secure workers' compensation insurance coverage, you may file a lawsuit against the company for recovery of your damages. If insurance coverage is mandatory, you may sue for the insurance benefits you should receive.
- Dual capacity claims: You could suffer an injury that involves your employer in a different capacity. You may have a tire blow out while driving a company vehicle that has tires manufactured by your employer's company. You can then file a products liability lawsuit for defective tires against the company. Also, if you visit the diner at which you are a server for a meal when you are off duty, and suffer injuries in a slip-and-fall accident, you can sue the diner for premises liability.
- Intentional concealment: If you develop silicosis after your employer allowed you to work unprotected in circumstances that can cause this life-threatening disease without informing you about the risks, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
- Deliberate harm: If your injury results from gross negligence or intentional harm done by your employer, you can sue him or her for personal injury. The same applies to filing a civil claim against a co-worker who caused you deliberate harm. However, proving intention in these circumstances may be challenging.
- Third-party liability: If a third-party with no link to your employer causes your injury in the workplace, you can file a third-party claim against that person or entity. This may be an injury due to equipment malfunction, and you can then hold the manufacturer of the tool responsible for bodily injury, pain and suffering, emotional harm and more. You can do this in conjunction with a workers' compensation claim.
Does pursuing compensation seem daunting?
Every one of these options will need careful consideration before proceeding with the action. An experienced Florida workers' compensation attorney can assess the circumstances that led to your occupational injury to determine the viability of a civil lawsuit and the best steps to achieve maximum compensation. If grounds exist, he or she can assist with navigation of the ensuing legal proceedings and also explain in which circumstances you might have to reimburse the insurance provider for amounts already paid to you.