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Exceptions to Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Immunity

Under Florida law, employers with four or more employees must purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Additionally, construction businesses must provide this insurance for every employee. This coverage is essential to both business owners and employees, because it covers various expenses related to workplace injuries. The insurance is designed to cover injuries that an employee suffered on-the-job. It typically covers medical expenses, recovery costs, missed wages, and funeral and burial costs. Employers may obtain private or state insurance or self-insure their employees. Employees do not share in the cost of the insurance premium. However, in exchange for the coverage, in most cases, the law prevents Florida employees from suing their employers to cover expenses from their workplace injuries.

Fault is not a consideration in workers’ compensation claims; however, employers must still keep their workplaces safe. In some situations, employers do not meet this burden, and as a result, their workers may suffer exposure to dangerous conditions. In many cases, workers’ compensation does not adequately cover the extent of the employee’s damages. For instance, although the insurance covers medical bills and lost wages, it does not compensate for pain and suffering. The bar on recovery can cause serious financial hardship to employees.

There are certain exceptions to workers’ compensation laws that may allow victims to recover additional damages. Employees may file a lawsuit against employers who did not carry workers’ compensation insurance or failed to process a claim in a timely manner. Further, employees may file lawsuits for workplace injuries against negligent third parties. For example, if an employee is driving a company vehicle for work and suffers injuries in a car accident, the employee may file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. Further, employees can file a lawsuit if an employer denies a workers’ compensation claim in bad faith.

An employee can file a lawsuit if the employer engages in an “intentional tort.” To meet this exception, the employee must overcome significant burdens. The employee must prove that the employer engaged in intentional conduct that they knew was certain to result in injury or death to the employee; the employee was not aware of the risk, and the employer purposefully concealed or misrepresented the danger. Further, Florida law prohibits employees from suing co-workers for ordinary negligence; however, there is an exception for gross negligence. In gross negligence cases, the employee may file a claim against the co-worker or their employer for vicarious liability.

However, these cases are fact-specific and require a thorough understanding of various legal theories. For example, a state court recently issued an opinion about an employee who suffered an attack by one of his employers’ clients. The plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim against the employer, and the parties settled the claim. However, the plaintiff sought to recover additional compensation based on gross negligence. The defendant argued that the settlement agreement released the employer and employees from any and all liability. Ultimately, the court agreed, reasoning that the employer was released from liability per the contract terms.

Have You Suffered Injuries at Your Workplace?

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries or died after a workplace accident, you should contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience handling personal injury claims arising from motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products. We understand the burdens that many of these claims pose to injury victims. However, through our legal acumen and diligent representation, we have successfully overcome these hurdles. We have recovered substantial amounts of compensation on behalf of our clients. Contact our office at 877-448-8585, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.

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