Florida Statutes gives an advantage to employers “exclusive and in place of all other liability.” In other words, when an employee is injured, they cannot “sue.” The employee forgoes the right to sue in exchange for the employer’s assumption of liability without fault. Employers can’t “fight” liability like if someone is injured on the job.
Workers’ Compensation is more structural and administrative. The system takes care of medical treatment and medical bills while managing the employee’s work-life based on restrictions unlike personal injury claims and lawsuits. However, personal injury claims and lawsuits allow for damage awards based on mental pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection, past and future loss of support and services. Awards are higher in non-workers’ compensation cases.
Workers’ Compensation is almost an exclusive remedy to employees injured on the job. Florida Statute 440.11 sees to this limitation by giving employers workers’ compensation immunity.
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However, there are three ways for employees injured in the course and scope of employment to overcome workers’ compensation immunity:
(1) Where the employer fails to secure workers; compensation insurance as required by law. In these cases, the state is also authorized to levy severe penalties. For these reasons, most employers who are required to maintain the coverage, do. There are certain companies with seasonal employees or under-the-table workers who often fall in this category.
(2) When an employer commits an intentional tort that causes the injury or death of the employee. Although many workplace accidents are caused by employer negligence, few are so flagrant as to expose the employer to excess liability. According to the statute, either the employer intended to injure the employee or “engaged in conduct that the employer knew, based on prior similar accidents or on explicit warnings specifically identifying a known danger, was virtually certain to result in injury or death to the employee, and the employee was not aware of the risk because the danger was not apparent and the employer deliberately concealed or misrepresented the danger so as to prevent the employee from exercising informed judgment about whether to perform the work.”
(3) When an employer denies that the accident happened in the course and scope of the employment may also expose them to excessive liability. The essentially open up a two-way street by denying it was a work-related incident, thus exposing themselves to suit.
If the negligence of another party can be proved, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from the party at fault. And oftentimes, insurance covers the loss.
You may be able to recover:
Diminution of Value of Property
Past Medical Expenses
Future Medical Expenses
Money Spent on Care and Treatment
Money Lost because of Injury
Compensation for Pain
Compensation for Disability
Compensation for Loss of Capacity for Enjoyment of Life
Compensation for Physical Impairment and Loss of Use
Compensation for Scarring or Disfigurement
Loss of Earnings / Wage Loss
Loss of Capacity to Earn
Damages to Spouse
Damages to Children
Get to a doctor and document your injuries. Not only does being proactive help your health, but insurance carriers and their lawyers always look to use evidence against you- how long you took to get to a doctor, what you complained about or didn’t complain about and they will comb through your records in painful detail. Go to the doctor, be honest and detailed.
Fill out any available accident reports and police reports. Ask for a copy. Then, call your insurance carrier and make a claim. Be careful what you say. All too often, injury victims will say they are “fine” or “not that bad” or otherwise be polite and that will haunt then if their injuries take a turn for the worse. The ER will only really tell you if you have broken bones or major issues, but go and be honest. Hospital emergency rooms tend to leave the bulging discs, herniated discs, shoulder tears and the like to later treating doctors.
Many of our clients are hurting, struggling and hoping they get better, but aren’t. You get one shot at recovery. Lawyers must make sure the insurance companies are acting fairly. John worked for eight years defending these claims for these companies and big businesses and could write a book about ways they use your desire to be fair and reasonable against you. He now solely works for injury victims like you.
While all lawyers are allowed to advertise and anyone can basically handle a personal injury case, only Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers are allowed to identify themselves as an “expert” or as “specialist” in this area. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the area by the Supreme Court of Florida. It also means the lawyer is known for trials- pushing beyond low offers by defendants, passed a peer review and passed a tough exam. Most cases do not get that far, but it is good to have a lawyer with all of the tools in their arsenal.
Insurance carriers try to negotiate every dollar they can, because every $100 means millions in the end to their Board of Directors. Attorneys matter. Defendants and their carriers change their game plan when an experienced lawyer is involved. For that reason – and the misinformation by TV lawyers and referral services- is why people should select lawyers carefully. Also, make sure it is the lawyer who shows up to meet with you and not a mere investigator. You are haring a lawyer and deserve their time. Also, ask for sample closing costs. Some lawyers charge for faxes, phone calls, scanning, postage, “in house courier” charges and even interest in these charges.
Because of the economy, more lawyers are jumping into personal injury and should stick to what they know. Personal injury law requires knowledge about medical science and biomechanics (the forces on a body in a wreck or a fall) far greater and more specific than you’d think. The other side has doctors and millions on their side to say nothing is wrong or fight the claim.
We invite you to review our verdicts, our accolades and awards and what clients have to say about us and give us a call for a free consultation where our lawyers will sit down with you personally. John represents clients in Florida, Georgia and Alabama with passion and compassion. He can be emailed at email@example.com or call us at (904) 444-4444.