From slips, trips and falls to malfunctioning equipment, workers in a wide range of industries risk potentially life-threatening injuries while on the job. According to the National Safety Council, over 4.5 million U.S. workers experience occupational injuries each year.
With few exceptions, Florida law requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance that offers employees important coverage for medical expenses and lost wages due to work-related injuries. However, in some cases, even a successful workers’ comp claim is not enough to receive fair and full compensation—especially in the case of catastrophic harm. In Florida, when third-party negligence contributes to a worker’s injury, he or she may be able to file an additional personal injury suit.
Workers’ compensation may offer limited benefits
Workers’ compensation benefits may include payments for lost wages, medical costs and disability or death. However, those benefits are subject to strict monetary caps that may not measure up to the injured person’s needs. If a third party was partially or wholly responsible, a worker could have the option of pursuing a personal injury claim to receive additional payment for present and future pain and suffering as well as lost income and medical expenses.
Certain industries are more likely to involve third-party liability
In exchange for receiving workers’ compensation coverage for on-the-job injuries, employees generally surrender the right to bring a lawsuit against their employer. However, in some cases, a third party may be responsible for the injury. Common examples include:
- A company driver injured in a motor vehicle accident may have the option of pursuing a personal injury claim against a negligent motorist.
- A construction worker injured by faulty equipment may be eligible for damages from the product manufacturer.
- An employee injured due to poor property maintenance could be able to bring a claim against the property owner.
While Florida law allows employees to receive both worker’s compensation benefits and personal injury damages under certain circumstances, these types of cases can be complex. Injured workers with a claim against a negligent third party should be sure to explore their options fully before agreeing to a settlement.