Roughly 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses occur annually, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. One-third of these incidents caused employees to miss at least one day at work. Those in agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, retail trades, transportation, and warehousing are at the highest risk for work injuries. As a Fort Myers injury lawyer, one question I am sometimes asked is whether or not someone can file a lawsuit following a work-related injury. The answer will depend on circumstances under which the person was injured, whether dangerous machines/products were involved, and who was responsible for safety at the place where it happened.
Let us start by making it clear that in the state of Florida, F.S. 440.11 makes it clear that workers’ compensation is considered the exclusive remedy for work related injuries. However, this does not mean you cannot file an injury lawsuit. What it means is that you probably cannot file an injury lawsuit against your employer or co-worker. The trade-off, as stated in F.S. 440.15, is that employees get the benefit of quick, efficient receipt of medical and wage loss benefits without having to prove they were blameless, while the employer enjoys immunity from work injury lawsuits. There is, however, a very narrow exception to this rule that involves employers who cause worker injuries with deliberate intent, and your injury probably does not qualify. (If your employer failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance or you were an independent contractor/not an employee, that may be another matter entirely.)
Still, what you do not want to discount is the potential for a third-party liability claim. The fact is, even if you do collect workers’ compensation, it is not going to cover as much as a personal injury lawsuit would. Workers’ compensation claims do not allow for damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, or a loss of consortium claim from your spouse. Continue reading