Workers’ Compensation Lawyer 101: Can You Sue Your Employer for Negligence as an Injured Worker in Ocala, FL?
Bill Allen | April 12, 2022 | Worker’s Compensation \ Workplace Accidents
Most work-related accidents and illnesses are covered by Florida’s workers’ compensation system. Injured employees can file claims with their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier and receive medical care and other benefits.
In most cases, you do not have the right to sue your employer for a work injury or illness. Your only recourse is workers’ compensation. However, there are some exceptions to the rule.
What if Your Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage?
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law requires most employers to cover their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation provides injured workers with medical treatment and income benefits. Workers’ comp covers most injuries and illnesses sustained during the ordinary course of employment.
However, if an employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, you may be entitled to sue your employer for negligence after a work accident. You could seek damages under Florida tort law.
What if a Defective Product Caused Your Injuries?
If an employer intentionally required an employee to use a defective product, the employer could be held liable for injuries and damages.
However, you would need to prove that the employer:
- Knew or should have known that the machinery or equipment was defective;
- Required you to use the defective product to perform your job; and
- Knew or should have known that the use of the defective item posed a risk of harm or injury to an employee.
It could be difficult to prove that the employer knew a product was defective. However, you could pursue a third-party claim against the product manufacturer or another party under product liability laws. The manufacturer could be held strictly liable for injuries caused by a defective item.
What if You Were Exposed to Hazardous or Dangerous Chemicals at Work?
Employers must provide a safe work environment for employees. A safe work environment does not mean that employees cannot work with dangerous or hazardous chemicals. However, failure to take reasonable precautions could result in financial liability.
You need to prove that the employer knew or should have known that the substance could cause harm. However, the employer failed to warn you of the risk or take reasonable steps to protect employees from harm. You also need to prove that the dangerous or hazardous substance caused your illness or injury.
What if Your Employer Intentionally Hurt You?
Florida’s workers’ compensation does not release employers from liability for intentional acts. If your employer intentionally causes you an injury, you might have the right to sue them for negligence.
However, you have the burden of proving that your employer intended to harm you to recover compensation for damages in a personal injury lawsuit. A workers’ compensation claim does not require you to prove that your employer was negligent or intentionally caused your injury.
Why Would I Want to Sue My Employer for Negligence?
A negligence lawsuit can provide substantially more compensation than workers’ compensation insurance. Therefore, you should discuss a workplace accident with an Ocala personal injury lawyer. An attorney will review the circumstances that led to your workplace injury or illness to determine if you have grounds to sue your employer.
Workers’ compensation benefits are limited. For example, you do not receive full compensation for all lost income. You only receive approximately two-thirds of your average weekly wages if you cannot work after a work injury. Also, you cannot recover any compensation for your pain and suffering.
However, a personal injury lawsuit against your employer or a third party can result in compensation for economic and non-economic damages.
The damages you could receive for a work-related injury after suing your employer may include:
- Past and future loss of income, including benefits and diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering from injuries
- Past and future cost of medical treatment, therapies, nursing care, and long-term personal care
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Out-of-pocket costs and expenses
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent impairment
- Disfigurement and scarring
The amount you receive depends on a variety of factors. For example, if you sustain a permanent impairment, the value of your lawsuit may increase. On the other hand, some factors could decrease the amount you receive, such as allegations of shared fault.
How Do Florida’s Comparative Fault Laws Affect the Value of My Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Florida’s pure comparative fault laws apply if you sue your employer for negligence. Contributing to the cause of your work injury could decrease the amount of money you receive. The reduction equals the percentage of your fault, as determined by a jury.
Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, comparative fault does not apply in workers’ comp claims. However, being intoxicated or intentionally causing your injury at work could make you ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Regardless of how you were injured at work, it is in your best interest to explore all options for receiving maximum compensation for an illness or injury sustained at work. Contact an Ocala personal injury lawyer today to discuss your situation and determine your legal options.
Contact Our Ocala Workplace Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida
If you need legal assistance, contact the Ocala workplace accident lawyers at Allen Law Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We have two convenient locations in North Central Florida:
Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Ocala Office
112 S Pine Ave
Ocala, FL 34471
Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Gainesville office
2550 SW 76th St #150
Gainesville, FL 32608