Can I Sue Outside of Workers’ Compensation?
If you were injured in your West Palm Beach workplace, you do not have to settle for workers’ compensation. While workers’ compensation is in place to help you cover a portion of your lost wages and your medical bills, it does not cover other types of damages that may stem from your injuries, such as lost earnings, lost earning capacity, permanent impairment, pain and suffering, or loss of enjoyment of life. Furthermore, if you opt to take the workers’ compensation settlement without exploring your options, you forfeit all future rights to sue your employer, even if your injuries prove to be much worse than what you and your doctor originally thought, or if latent injuries pop up later on.
If you are the victim of a workplace accident, do not just automatically settle for the first workers’ compensation settlement you are offered. Contact a West Palm Beach workers’ compensation lawyer to explore the options available to you.
When Can I Sue Outside of Workers’ Compensation?
While specific coverage requirements vary based on the industry, all Florida employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Because of this, it is difficult for Florida employees to sue their employer for injuries sustained at work. Most injury claims must go through workers’ compensation. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including:
- Defective Products: If you were injured by a defective product, you may be able to file a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the product. The manufacturer, if found liable, would have to compensate you for things like lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
- Toxic Substance: If you are injured or become ill because of a substance you routinely work with, or because of a toxic substance in the workplace, you may be able to sue for a “toxic tort.” Again, the manufacturer of the toxic substance and/or the manufacturer of the safety equipment may be held liable.
- Third Party: If a third party causes your injury, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against that person. For instance, if a contractor or subcontractor is responsible for your injuries, they can be held liable.
Civil Suits Brought Against the Employer
In very limited circumstances may you sue your employer for injuries sustained at work. The following are two instances in which you may win in a lawsuit against your employer:
- Your Employer Intentionally Harmed You. If your employer took action against you with the specific and direct intent of causing you harm, they can be sued. Intentional acts include punching you in the face, pushing you, or some other physical altercation. Intentional acts does not include failing to provide you with health insurance or failing to employ proper safety protocol.
- Your Employer Has Insufficient or No Workers’ Compensation. If an employer does not carry workers’ compensation, not only will they be subject to fines and penalties upon the state finding out, but they will also be subject to any personal injury lawsuits brought against them by an injured employee. If your employer did not have workers’ compensation at the time of your injury, you are free to sue for any damages, including lost wages and pain and suffering—two damages not awarded under workers’ compensation.
Hire a West Palm Beach Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Even if your injury meets the qualifications for one of the exceptions above, it can still be difficult to obtain compensation via a civil suit when your employer has workers’ compensation. That is why it is important to consult with a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer before accepting any settlement—from workers’ compensation or otherwise. Call our office at 1-888-LPENDAS to schedule a consultation today.
The Pendas Law Firm also serves clients in the Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona, Bradenton, and Orlando areas.