When someone is injured while on the job, Florida law sometimes allows a person to file a civil negligence suit against their employer for negligently putting them in a hazardous situation or otherwise causing their injuries from an accident. These suits, if successful, can result in significant monetary compensation to the employee, covering their injuries, lost wages, past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. However, they can also be very difficult to win, especially when the defendant is a large company and has invested significant resources into their legal team. Because this is a complicated area of law, potential plaintiffs should consider working with a personal injury attorney to maximize their chances for success.
Recently, a federal appellate court considered a case which highlights the difficulties of bringing a suit after a workplace injury. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff worked for a construction company that was hired by an electric company to install, replace, and repair high voltage transmission lines. While working, the plaintiff climbed a pole to change out a wire and suffered an electric shock. As a result, he suffered serious burns to his hands, arms, and right leg, as well as brain damage. He ultimately had to have his left hand amputated and is now dealing with chronic pain and permanent disfigurement.
The plaintiff filed suit against the electric company, and the defendant company then filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed. The court found that the defendant electric company could not be held liable because they employed the construction company as an independent contractor. Generally, those employing independent contractors cannot be held responsible for injuries that happen in their work unless they had sufficient control over the independent contractors. Because the electric company left control to the construction company and only was concerned with the final product, not how the project was completed, the court found they could not be held liable.