11th Circuit Says Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws Apply to Temporary Driver Injured in Dump Truck Crash: Wesco Insurance Co. v. Casto

In Wesco Insurance Co. v. Casto, a man sued a Florida company in federal court for personal injuries he allegedly suffered in a collision while driving a dump truck that was owned by the company. In response to the lawsuit, the company sought defense and indemnity from its motor vehicle insurer. The insurance company then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing the injured man was an employee at the time of his injury. According to the insurer, the man’s injury was subject to the Floridaworkers’ compensation statute and excluded from coverage pursuant to the terms of the company’s automobile policy. When a party to a lawsuit files a motion for summary judgment, that party is asking the court to rule in his or her favor because no material facts are in dispute and the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The district court granted the insurer’s motion, and the injured man filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

On appeal, the injured man argued that his harm was not properly subject to the workers’ compensation statute because he was not being compensated for driving the dump truck. Instead, he claimed that he was a volunteer. The man also claimed that the district court committed error when it granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether he was a volunteer or temporary worker who was not included under the company’s motor vehicle insurance coverage.

First, the 11th Circuit examined whether the injured man was in fact a volunteer at the time of the dump truck crash. The court stated the relevant inquiry regarding whether a person is a volunteer relates to the expectation of payment for services. Since the injured man testified that he expected to be compensated for driving the dump truck on the date of the accident, and no contrary evidence was offered to the district court, the appellate court held that the man was not a volunteer under Florida law.

Next, the court stated that the injured man’s claim that he was a temporary worker was not relevant to the question of whether or not the workers’ compensation laws applied to him. According to the 11th Circuit, the man was an employee under the statute regardless of the intended duration. Since there was no question of fact related to whether the injured man was covered by Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, and the motor vehicle policy expressly excluded coverage for employee injuries, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the district court.

The financial compensation that a worker who is hurt on the job in Florida may be entitled to collect varies based on the facts of each situation. If you were injured in an unexpected workplace accident, you should discuss your right to recover damages with an experienced Miami workers’ compensation attorney. To schedule a free confidential consultation with a hardworking workers’ compensation lawyer, do not hesitate to contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. through our website or give us a call at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

Wesco Insurance Co. v. Casto, Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit 2014

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