Workers’ Compensation versus Personal Injury Lawsuits: When Can I Sue My Employer?
Workers’ compensation law is considered a trade-off between employees and employers. Employees can get coverage for injuries that occur in the workplace regardless of whether or not the accident was their fault, and employers get immunity from lawsuits filed by employees against them. Of course, the system doesn’t work exactly like that, and there are a number of exceptions to this rule. That can make it confusing for those who were injured at work. What should you do next? In this article, we’ll discuss your options.
Personal Injury versus Workers’ Compensation Claims
In Florida, almost every type of employer you can imagine is required by law to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Employers who carry workers’ comp coverage are immune to lawsuits filed by employees related to on-the-job or work-related injuries. There are limits to this immunity.
Additionally, we said above that it doesn’t matter if the accident was your fault or someone else you work with or the company itself. That’s true to an extent. However, accidents caused by non-work-related activity are not covered. If, for example, a worker shows up drunk or high and then falls off a roof, chances are good that the workers’ comp policy will not cover them.
Exceptions to Employer Immunity
Employers are immune from the vast majority of workers’ compensation lawsuits. However, there are times that their conduct is so egregious, that they violate the spirit of the law, and thus an employee may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. These circumstances are severely limited. They include:
- Intentional malice – If your supervisor punches you in the face, you can sue them and your company. Injuries not caused by your day-to-day work activities can result in lawsuits.
- Willful and gross negligence – If an employer knew of a danger on the premises, failed to warn employees about it, and then covered it up, they lose their employer immunity since they made a workplace injury “virtually inevitable”.
- Insurance denials of coverage – If the employer’s own workers’ compensation insurance provider denies coverage to an employee, the employee may be able to bring a negligence suit against them.
- Third-party lawsuits – You can file a lawsuit against a third-party (not your employer) so long as the third-party is not a contractor covered by the same workers’ compensation policy.
What Should I Do Next?
If you were injured on the job and your injuries are severe enough to require that you miss time from work, then you should have a Miami workers’ compensation attorney look at your case. While some law firms handle personal injury cases and other law firms handle workers’ comp cases, our law firm handles both, meaning we can help you make this very important decision. Call Payer & Associates today to learn more about how we can help.