The Difference Between Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury in Florida
Bill Allen | March 15, 2022 | Common Personal Injury Issues
The primary difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury in Florida is fault. Both workers’ compensation cases and personal injury claims involve injured persons. However, workers’ compensation and personal injury cases differ in several key areas, including the types of benefits available for injured individuals.
Proving Fault for a Personal Injury Claim
Most personal injury cases in Florida require that you prove fault for the cause of the injury. If you cannot prove the other party caused your injury, you cannot recover compensation for damages. Therefore, causation is a crucial element of a personal injury claim.
The injured person has the burden of proving the required elements of negligence. Those elements are:
- The party owed you a duty of care
- The party breached the duty of care
- The breach of duty was the proximate and direct cause of your injury
- You sustained damages because of the breach of duty
However, negligence is not a factor in a workers’ compensation claim. Florida workers’ compensation laws do not require that the injured worker prove their employer was negligent in causing their accident. It is a no-fault system. Workers only need to prove they were injured during the ordinary course of business to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Contributory Fault is Generally Not a Factor in Workers’ Compensation Claims
Florida’s contributory fault laws state that a person’s damages in a personal injury claim is reduced by their percentage of fault for causing their injuries. In other words, if you contributed to the cause of your car crash, you cannot recover full compensation for damages. For example, if a jury finds you were 10 percent at fault, your award for damages will be reduced by 10 percent.
However, contributory fault generally does not affect a workers’ compensation claim. A worker can be partially or wholly at fault for the cause of their injury and still receive workers’ compensation benefits. There are some exceptions, such as if the worker was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or the worker intentionally caused their injury.
Compensation for Medical Care and Lost Wages
The compensation for medical care and lost wages differ between personal injury and workers’ compensation cases.
In a personal injury case, the person is entitled to compensation for all medical expenses and loss of income if the other party is entirely responsible for the cause of the injury.
Workers’ compensation generally covers all necessary and reasonable costs for medical treatment for a workplace injury or illness. Injured workers do not receive full compensation for all loss of income. If you cannot work because of an injury at work, you receive total temporary disability benefits. Those benefits equal 66 ⅔% of your average regular wages.
However, Florida caps the amount of disability benefits for workers’ compensation claims. Therefore, some workers might not receive the full 66 ⅔% of their wages. If you sustain severe injuries, you could receive 80% of your wages as temporary total disability benefits.
Compensation for Non-Economic Damages
Workers’ compensation does not compensate an injured employee for non-economic or “pain and suffering” damages.
However, personal injury claims often include compensation for non-economic damages, including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Reduction in quality of life
Scarring, disfigurement, and impairments are included in non-economic damages for a pain and suffering claim in a personal injury case. Likewise, an injured worker could receive compensation if they experience a partial or total impairment. Still, it might not be as much as a personal injury case because the amounts are subject to caps.
Third-Party Claims for Workplace Accidents
An injured worker may file a personal injury claim for a workplace accident in some cases. Examples of third party claims include, but are not limited to:
- Claims against a manufacturer for injuries caused by a defective product (product liability claims)
- A claim against another driver who caused an accident while you were delivering supplies for your employer
- Claims against property owners for injuries on their property while you were performing work (premises liability claims)
- A claim against a homeowner for a dog bite while you were in their home working on repairs or performing a service
Generally, workers cannot sue their employers for injuries on the job. Therefore, workers’ compensation is the only option to recover money for some of their losses. However, if your employer intentionally caused you harm or was grossly negligent, you could have a claim against your employer.
Talking to an experienced Ocala personal injury lawyer who handles workers’ compensation claims is the best way to learn about all options for recovering compensation and benefits after a workplace injury or accident.
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