Under Florida law, an employee gives up the right to sue an employer for a workplace injury or illness in exchange for benefits through workers’ compensation.
Through this state-sponsored program, employees are guaranteed access to medical care and payments for time off work, and also cannot be fired while they recover from an injury.
However, there are a few situations where workers
could be able to file claims against their companies.
Injury Claim Options Beyond Workers’ Compensation
In most cases, employees are required to pursue injury claims through the workers’ compensation system. As long as benefits have been provided, employees must resolve disputes in workers’ compensation court.
An employee can only file an injury suit in civil court against the company if:
- The employer failed to provide workers’ compensation coverage. Employers are only protected from work injury lawsuits if they provide fair and timely workers’ compensation benefits. If the employer didn't purchase sufficient workers’ compensation insurance, it broke the law and can be held liable for civil penalties—including injury claims, citations from the state, and fines.
- The employer intended to cause you harm. The intent to cause harm goes beyond negligence, and requires proof that an employer engaged in behavior that was virtually guaranteed to endanger you or your fellow employees. For example, failure to provide a safe workplace isn't a valid reason to bring an injury suit, but your employer pushing you down a flight of stairs certainly is.
One advantage of filing an injury suit against an employer is that workers aren't limited in the amounts they can be awarded in the case. Workers can collect payment for pain and suffering as well as punitive damages—an amount that can be up to three times the value of compensatory damages in Florida.
On the other hand, an employee has to prove the employer was negligent or at-fault for the injury—something that's not required in workers’ compensation claims.
If your employer failed to provide workers’ compensation benefits, we can examine your claim and advise you of the legal options. Call us today, or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation with an attorney.