Any workplace in any industry can be dangerous for workers, so it is a relief to know that Florida workers’ compensation laws exist to protect your interests if you were hurt in a work-related accident. Fortunately, the system is one of no-fault, so you do not need to prove that your employer was negligent or somehow responsible for causing the incident. If you qualify, you can start receiving your monetary benefits promptly. However, there is a caveat: Filing a workers’ comp claim is your sole remedy, and you are barred from seeking damages in civil court.
This is a significant drawback in certain situations, but you should note that there are exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule. You could open the door to civil litigation – and significant advantages – if you fall within one of them, and a Miami workplace injury lawyer can advise you on the specifics. An overview of the basic legal concepts may also be useful.
Exceptions to Workers’ Comp as Sole Remedy
There are three scenarios in which you may avoid the exclusivity rule and proceed to file a lawsuit in civil court:
- If your employer is required to carry workers’ comp insurance, but fails to do so, you can seek monetary damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
- When companies engage in intentional conduct that causes work-related injuries, workers’ compensation laws will not protect them. You can press criminal charges if appropriate, but the penalties for a conviction will not cover your damages. Instead, you can obtain compensation through civil court.
- Some workplace accidents are caused by contractors, vendors, or other third party companies that are not affiliated with your employer. Your rights with respect to these claims are not governed by workers’ comp laws.
Damages You Can Recover in a Workplace Injury Lawsuit
The key to these exceptions to workers’ comp as the sole remedy is the type of damages you can recover. Florida workers’ comp will pay for:
- Medical costs to treat your current injuries and for care you may require in the future for related complications;
- Wage replacement if you are unable to work because of your injuries;
- Total or partial disability, on a permanent or temporary basis depending on the part of the body affected; and,
- Death benefits, if you are the surviving family member of a worker who was killed in an on-the-job accident.
The Florida workers’ comp system does NOT allow you to recover amounts for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, which may be significant. For this reason, it is wise to pursue a civil claim whenever possible.
Our Miami Workplace Injury Attorneys Will Explain Your Remedies
If you were hurt on the job and want to know more about options outside Florida workers’ compensation laws, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. We can set up a no-cost consultation for you at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. Once we review your situation, we can advise you on the exceptions to the sole remedy rule.