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Can You Obtain Workers’ Compensation After Being Injured at Work by a Third Party?


Most people understand that they can pursue workers’ compensation benefits when they are injured at work during the scope of employment due to circumstances that are caused by their employer or another employee. However, it can be much more confusing for an injured worker to understand his or her options after an injury occurs at work as the result of the actions of a third party.

The Miami Herald recently reported that a McDonald’s worker was attacked earlier this year by a customer who apparently became angry when he was unable to locate a straw. Video footage captured of the incident shows that the man began the attack when he grabbed the worker by her collar from across the counter but that she defended herself with several retaliatory blows. The man has since been jailed and the worker later publicly demanded that McDonald’s increase provided training to help protect its employees.

In these kinds of situations, it may not be clear whether you should be pursuing a traditional workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim. However, you can actually have both types of claims at the same time.

What is the Law in Florida?

Compensation for injuries when third persons are liable is outlined in Florida Statute 440.39. Under this statute, a worker who is injured or killed in a workplace during the scope of employment as the result of the negligence or wrongful act of a third party, then the injured worker or his or her surviving dependents can accept workers’ compensation benefits while also pursuing a civil suit against the third-party tortfeasor.

How Can These Concurrent Claims Affect Each Other?

The statute also dictates that when an injured worker or his or her dependents initiates or is awarded compensation from a civil suit against the third-party tortfeasor who caused the injuries, then the employer or insurance carrier can obtain a lien against any judgment or settlement that the injured worker recovers in the form of a pro rata share for compensation and medical benefits. This amount will typically be determined by the court.

Is the Injured Worker the Only Party That Can Bring a Civil Suit Against the Third Party?

No. If an entire year passes from when the accident occurred and the injured worker or his or her surviving dependents do not initiate a civil lawsuit, then the employer, or the insurance carrier, can initiate its own lawsuit against the third party after giving 30 days’ notice to the injured employee, the survivors, and the lawyer if applicable.

Allow Us to Help.

You are not alone if you believe you have suffered an injury at work as the result of the actions of a third party. However, this is a complex area of law and you will need help determining the true cause of your injury and how to hold those parties responsible. The experienced Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates have helped many injured workers figure out how to proceed in complicated situations and will help ensure that you maximize your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. Begin by contacting us today to schedule a free consultation.


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