Should I File a Workers’ Comp or Personal Injury Claim in Florida?
February 11, 2023 | Sagi Shaked | Workers’ Compensation
Being injured at work typically means filing a Florida workers’ compensation claim. Some injured workers might also be able to file a personal injury claim. However, how do you know whether to file a workers’ comp claim or a personal injury claim?
Do not assume you are limited to workers’ comp benefits if you are hurt at work. Instead, talk with a Miami workplace accident lawyer. An attorney reviews your case during a free consultation to determine all sources of compensation for your work-related injury.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Benefits for an Injured Worker
Most employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. The insurance provides benefits for injured employees. The injury or illness must have occurred during the ordinary course of employment.
Workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Reasonable and necessary medical treatment provided by an authorized primary physician or specialist, emergency medical care, and mileage to and from medical appointments.
- Lost wages if you are unable to work after a work injury.
- Impairment benefits if your doctor diagnoses a permanent impairment after you reach maximum medical improvement. The benefits are based on the impairment rating provided by a physician.
- Death benefits paid to the surviving family for a work-related death up to $150,000 for funeral expenses ($7,500 limit), compensation, and education benefits to the surviving spouse.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. A worker does not need to prove an employer was negligent to receive benefits. Furthermore, a worker can receive full benefits even though the worker is partially to blame for causing the injury.
Workers’ compensation laws restrict the employee’s options for compensation in some ways. Workers are prohibited from suing their employer in most cases. Rare exceptions do exist, such as an employer intentionally injuring an employee or failing to provide required workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Florida Workplace Injury
An injured worker might have a personal injury claim against a third party in some situations. A third party could be anyone other than the worker’s employer.
A third-party personal injury claim is separate from a workers’ comp claim. You can file a personal injury claim and receive compensation for damages even though you filed a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are several differences between a workers’ comp claim and a personal injury claim.
Proving Negligence and Fault
A difference between workers’ comp claims and personal injury claims is the requirement to prove the other party caused your injury. Most personal injury claims are based on negligence. Therefore, you must prove the following legal requirements to prove liability:
- Duty of Care – The party who caused your injury owed you a legal duty of care. For example, a motorist owes others on the road a duty of care to take reasonable steps to avoid a crash.
- Breach of Duty – The party who caused your injury breached their duty of care. An example might be a driver running a red light.
- Causation – The other party’s conduct was a direct and proximate cause of your injury. In our example, the driver running the red light was the reason for the car accident.
- Damages – You sustained damages because of the accident. Damages include financial losses, pain, and suffering.
If you do not have sufficient evidence to prove your case, you cannot recover compensation for a personal injury claim. The level of proof for a civil case is by a preponderance of the evidence. Therefore, if you file a lawsuit, you must convince the jurors it is more likely your allegations are true than untrue.
Damages for a Personal Injury Claim
A significant benefit of filing a personal injury claim for a workplace accident is the damages you can receive. Workers’ compensation benefits are very limited. You do not receive compensation for all lost wages, and you cannot recover money for your pain and suffering.
However, a personal injury claim could result in compensation for all economic damages, including:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Loss of income and benefits
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Cost of personal care and help with household tasks
If you sustain a permanent impairment, you could also receive compensation for future lost wages and a decrease in earning capacity. In addition to your financial losses, a personal injury claim could result in compensation for non-economic damages, including:
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Physical pain
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disabilities and impairments
The value of your damages depends on the facts of your case. Typically, catastrophic injuries increase the value of damages. Permanent impairments also increase how much your case is worth.
Florida’s Contributory Fault Law
Unlike workers’ compensation claims, contributory fault applies in personal injury cases. Comparative fault holds each party responsible for damages in relation to their level of fault, including the injured party.
Therefore, if your conduct contributed to the cause of your injury, you do not receive full compensation for your damages. Your compensation is reduced by your level of fault.
For example, suppose your fault for the cause of a slip and fall accident is 40 percent. In that case, you could receive up to 60% of the value of your damages.
Examples of Situations When an Injured Worker Might Have a Personal Injury Claim
Someone other than your employer must be at fault for causing your workplace injury to file a third-party claim. Examples of personal injury claims related to work injuries include, but are not limited to:
- A car accident that occurs while you are on the job;
- An injury caused by a defective product;
- A property owner’s negligence resulted in your injuries, such as failing to warn you about broken steps or faulty electrical wiring;
- You were exposed to hazardous substances; or,
- A person’s negligence or intentional torts caused your injury.
As noted above, if your employer intentionally caused you serious harm, you might have a claim against your employer. That claim would fall under personal injury laws.
Get Help With a Workplace Accident Claim
Third-party claims for workplace injuries can be complicated personal injury cases. You may need experienced legal help fighting for the money you deserve.
Insurance companies have teams of investigators, adjusters, and defense lawyers to protect their best interests. Likewise, you deserve to have a legal team on your side with the resources, knowledge, and skills to navigate the legal process of recovering compensation for work injuries.
You can learn more about personal injury claims by talking to a Miami workplace accident attorney. A lawyer helps you understand your options and which option is best for your situation.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Miami, FL
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Miami, FL and need legal help, contact our Miami injury lawyers at Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.
Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers
20900 NE 30th Ave Suite 715
Aventura, FL 33180