Can I opt out of workers’ compensation and file a personal injury lawsuit against my employer instead?

work_comp_claimIn most cases, people who are injured on the job in Florida can only recover payment through workers’ compensation law. State law requires every employer to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover the costs of an employee’s work-related accident, injury, or occupational disease.

In exchange for guaranteed benefits through the employer, an employee must depend on workers’ compensation as the "exclusive remedy" for any injuries.

However, there are some circumstances when a worker may be entitled to file a lawsuit for work-related injuries, including:

  • The employer doesn't have sufficient workers’ compensation insurance to cover the injury 
  • The injury was caused by extreme negligence or recklessness on the part of the employer
  • The employer caused intentional harm to the employee, such as a manager committing personal violence against a worker
  • The injury was caused by a defective product, toxic substance, coworker, or other third party

The Different Benefits of Injury Lawsuits and Workers’ Comp Claims

Even if you can't sue your employer, that doesn't mean you're not entitled to the full costs of your injury through workers’ compensation. In fact, filing a claim has two major advantages over a lawsuit:

  • The employer is required to pay for your income loss and medical benefits, whereas court costs may be lost
  • Payment can begin immediately after the claim is filed

However, the employee cannot receive any additional amount for his pain and suffering through workers’ compensation—and of course, the claim may be denied.

If an employee is eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer or a third party, he or she isn't limited to the amount that can be recovered in the case. The total amount of the claim can include lost wages, reimbursement for medical costs, permanent disability, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and punitive damages. Punitive damages can amount to a large sum of money that your employer pays as punishment for causing your injury, and serves as an incentive for the employer to improve workplace safety.

If you have questions after an injury at work, our attorneys can investigate the facts of your claim to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation.