Does an Employer’s Denial of Workers’ Compensation Bar a Workers’ Compensation Immunity Defense in a Florida Civil Suit?
Dealing with a workplace injury is frustrating. However, it is also frustrating to try to understand your legal options after being injured on-the-job. One of the biggest questions that many injured workers have is whether they should be pursuing workers’ compensation benefits or a personal injury lawsuit. In order to understand the answer to this question, it is important to understand the concept of workers’ compensation immunity.
What is Workers’ Compensation Immunity?
Florida’s workers’ compensation statute generally covers injuries that occur at a workplace during the scope of employment. The good news is that workers’ compensation in the Sunshine State is a no-fault based system and workers are generally entitled to benefits regardless of who caused their accident. However, this system also has limitations on an injured worker’s legal rights for their workplace injuries. For example, workers’ compensation benefits typically mean that:
- An injured worker is not in charge of choosing his or her own healthcare provider
- There are limitations on the amount of lost wages that may be recovered
- There is no option to bring a claim for pain and suffering, which means that there is significantly less of an opportunity for deserved compensation than in the context of a personal injury lawsuit
For these reasons among others, it is unsurprising that some injured workers seek to go beyond the benefits available under the workers’ compensation system. However, this is not a possibility for most injured workers. Instead, employers are generally immune from liability in negligence actions brought by employees for injuries occurring in the course and scope of employment. Therefore, most workers are limited to recovering under the workers’ compensation system for injuries incurred on-the-job outside of a few exceptions.
What Case Recently Addressed When Workers’ Compensation Immunity Applies?
In McNair v. Dorsey, a Florida appellate court considered whether an employer’s denial of an injured employee’s workers’ compensation claim prevented that employer from asserting a workers’ compensation immunity defense in a civil suit.
Addressing the background of this case, the injured worker challenged summary judgment entered in favor of his employer and a coworker involved in his workplace accident, both of whom claimed entitlement to workers’ compensation immunity from the personal injury lawsuit the injured worker pursued after being denied workers’ compensation benefits.
The injured worker filed an amended complaint arguing that the adverse parties were estopped from claiming that workers’ compensation provided his exclusive remedy since his employer had claimed in the compensation case that the worker did not suffer a compensable accident within the course and scope of his employment. Ultimately, the court disagreed, holding instead that an employer is not estopped from asserting workers’ compensation exclusivity merely because it had denied workers’ compensation benefits for an alleged workplace injury.
Let Us Work For You.
If you are an injured worker who is struggling to figure out whether you may be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim or should instead be attempting to maximize your workers’ compensation benefits, you need to reach out to a legal team that is experienced in both areas of law as soon as possible. As the Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates, you can depend on us to clarify the benefits you are entitled to and help you obtain them while you get focus on your recovery. Contact us today to begin.