When injuries occur at work, you cannot sue your employer in Florida, for the most part. That said, there are some exceptions that could allow you to file a lawsuit against your employer. Generally, litigation is only an option when workers’ compensation benefits are not available or an employer’s actions were especially egregious.
We can help you understand your options based on your situation.
Workers’ Compensation and the Right to File Suit
Like all states, Florida has adopted a workers’ compensation system to provide monetary benefits for employees injured on the job, per Florida Statutes § 440. This system serves as a type of insurance paid for by the employer. When a worker is hurt, they can file a claim on their employer’s insurance policy and seek monetary benefits.
The tradeoff with this system is that a worker that is covered by workers’ compensation benefits waives the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. The loss of your right to pursue an injury lawsuit is a central component of the workers’ compensation system. Unfortunately, there are forms of compensation that would normally be available through a personal injury claim that are not an option in a workers’ compensation case.
To consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer today, call 855-780-9986
Exceptions to Suing Your Employer
Like with most legal standards, there are some exceptions that will allow you to pursue a civil lawsuit directly against your employer. These exceptions include:
- The employer lacks workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation benefits are only available when an employer has insurance coverage. This means a claim for benefits will not be successful at a workplace that allowed their coverage to expire. In these cases, it is possible to sue the employer directly.
- Intentional harm. Negligence claims are generally barred by the workers’ compensation system. One important exception involves intentional harm. If an employer or supervisor intentionally causes harm to an employee at the workplace, they may be found liable for your damages. However, it can be challenging to prove intent in these cases.
- Virtual certainty. Another uncommon exception occurs when a court finds there was “virtual certainty” an injury would occur. In these cases, it is possible to file a lawsuit directly against the employer that put you in a position that was virtually certain to result in your harm.
- Claim interference. There are also steps that an employer can take to remove the workers’ compensation system they enjoy. Courts have found that employers that are responsible for the denial of a workers’ compensation claim could be on the hook for damages. For example, an employer that fails to turn over the injury to the insurer or otherwise delays the process could be held accountable through a civil lawsuit.
There are solid reasons why an employee might be able to pursue a civil lawsuit. Also, there are forms of compensation available through a personal injury lawsuit that are not available through the workers’ compensation system. Most notable among these is compensation for your physical pain and suffering.
Lawsuits Against Other Parties
Even if you cannot sue your employer for a workplace injury, you might have other options at your disposal. Workers’ compensation laws may prevent you from suing your employer, but third parties who are liable for an accident are not protected from lawsuits. This means you could pursue litigation if your workplace injury was caused by a third-party that is unrelated to your employer.
For example, a worker that is injured at a construction site after falling from a scaffolding has no right to file a lawsuit against their employer, as long as the employer has workers’ compensation coverage. The outcome is different in a case where a drunk driver crashes into the construction site, injuring a worker. Even though the injury occurred at work, the driver that caused the crash is not protected by workers’ compensation laws.
Deadline to File a Lawsuit in Florida
Typically, employees cannot sue their employers for a workplace accident. Workers’ compensation allows employees to collect money for injuries and treatment without determining liability for the injury.
However, as established above, there are some cases in which an employee might be able to sue their employer for negligence. If this applies to you, you could have up to two years to file your lawsuit. This deadline would also apply for third-party lawsuits whose negligence contributed to your injuries.
Reach out to our lawyers as soon as you can to discuss if this is an option in your case, and if so, how long you have to act.
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Discuss Your Options with Bogin, Munns & Munns
When it comes to the right to sue your employer in Florida, every case is different. The factors that surround your injury could give you the opportunity to pursue a lawsuit or require you to go through the workers’ compensation system.
The good news is that you do not have to guess which option is available to you. The team at Bogin, Munns & Munns has experience in standing up for injured workers throughout the state. We can advise you if a lawsuit is an option or if workers’ compensation makes the most sense in your case. To learn more about your options, call 407-578-9696 for your initial consultation today.