The Difference Between Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury in Florida
June 20, 2023 | Sagi Shaked | Personal Injury
If you suffer a work-related injury, you might seek compensation by filing a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim. These two approaches are procedurally distinct from each other. Typically, you cannot file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim – but there are exceptions.
The Florida Workers’ Compensation Division administers the state’s workers’ compensation claims. Meanwhile, insurance companies and the Florida civil court system administer Florida personal injury claims. Each system offers its own advantages and disadvantages.
Is Your Claim Against Your Employer or a Third Party?
If your claim is against your employer, you must file your claim with the workers’ compensation system. Remember, if the at-fault party was another employee, your employer bears liability under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. The at-fault employee probably lacks the financial resources to pay your claim anyway.
On the other hand, you might seek liability against a third party. Suppose, for example, that you are a construction worker and you suffered an injury due to a dangerous condition at a construction site. If the dangerous condition was due to the negligence of the property owner, your claim is against the property owner rather than your employer. In that case, you should file a premises liability claim rather than a workers’ compensation claim.
Can You Prove the Other Party Was at Fault?
When it comes to selecting a defendant after a work-related accident, fault is critical. If you cannot prove whose fault caused the accident, and if you don’t anticipate proving it with further evidence, you’d better hope your employer is to blame. If so, you’re in luck. That’s because in a workers’ compensation claim, you don’t have to prove fault to win.
If Your Injury Resulted From a Car Accident, Was Your Injury “Serious” Under Florida Law?
Florida operates a no-fault car accident Insurance system. Under most circumstances, if you suffered a car accident injury, you need to file a claim with your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. You don’t need to prove fault, and you don’t need to involve the other driver at all.
The problem is that under PIP, you will only qualify for economic damages such as medical bills and lost earnings. You cannot claim compensation for intangible losses such as pain and suffering. This restriction could drastically lower your damages. The only exception would be if your injuries were “serious” under Florida law. Only then could you file a personal injury lawsuit.
If your accident was not “serious” and it was not work-related, you will suffer the worst of both worlds – meaning you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit nor a worker’s compensation claim. You will need to seek PIP compensation, which might be inadequate.
The Ability To File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If your injury claim is a work-related claim against your employer, you generally cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. instead, you must satisfy yourself with the administrative remedy offered by the workers’ comp system. However, there are exceptions; an attorney can help you evaluate your options.
The Availability of Compensation
If you must file a claim under the workers’ compensation system, you will have to settle for workers’ compensation damages. You will be entitled to compensation for all of your medical bills. However, you will qualify for only two-thirds of your pre-accident weekly wages. Even this amount tops out at a maximum of a little over $1,000 per week. The authorities adjust this amount upwards every year.
Seek an Experienced Workplace Accident Attorney
Workplace accident lawyers abound in Miami, Florida. Only a small percentage of these lawyers are truly effective, however. Almost all of them will represent you for free unless they win or settle your case. Initial case consultations are also free of charge in almost every instance. If your claim is substantial, don’t waste time; get a lawyer involved as soon as possible.