Suing Employers For Work Injuries
Generally speaking, Florida law protects most employers against legal suits involving work-related injuries and illnesses. As such, injured workers are expected to only seek compensation through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, including cases involving intentional harm, third-party liability, and wrongful termination. In these cases, employees are well within their rights to sue their employers.
Learn more about suing employers, when you can do so, and how. Think you have a case? Contact our workers comp lawyer, Ken Hesser, to get a case consultation.
When You Can Sue
Under certain circumstances, injured workers can file a civil lawsuit against their employer. However, please note that this is not the same as appealing a denied or unfavorable workers compensation claim, which is done through the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC). Instead, suing your employer is considered separate from the workers’ compensation process.
Suing Your Employer
If you are eligible to file a lawsuit against your employer, you won't be limited to the amounts provided by workers’ compensation insurance. In addition to lost wages, medical expenses, and permanent impairment, you may obtain benefits for pain and suffering. Additionally, you may receive compensation for punitive damages or a lump sum many times the amount of actual damages you incurred, especially in cases of egregiously inappropriate behavior from an employer or third party.
The following include some common grounds for a lawsuit against an employer.
- Intentional Harm. If your employer has taken any action with the intent to harm you directly, you may sue them for an intentional tort. For example, an act of physical retaliation, such as punching or slapping, can be grounds for a lawsuit.
- Insufficient Workers’ Comp. If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation, not only will they be subject to fines and penalties from the state, but you may also file a personal injury lawsuit against them. Likewise, if your employers did not have a policy at the time of injury, you’re free to sue for damages, including lost wages, pain, and suffering.
- Wrongful Termination. Employers may not terminate an employee for filing a worker’s compensation claim. Doing so could be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Suing In Addition To Workers Compensation
In some instances, injured workers may be able to sue a third party for a work-related injury or illness, even after exhausting their workers’ compensation benefits. Common cases include the following.
- Defective Products. If a defective product injured you, you may file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
- Toxic Substances. Similarly, if you’re injured or become sick due to a poisonous substance you regularly work with, you may sue that product’s manufacturer for toxic tort.
- Third-Party. If a third party causes you a work-related injury or illness, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against that person. Doing so is particularly common when dealing with contractors and subcontractors.
How To Sue Employers
Even if your work-related injury or illness case meets any of the exceptions described above, obtaining compensation via a civil suit can still be quite challenging, especially when your employer has workers’ compensation insurance. To tip the scales in your favor, get an experienced workers comp attorney to negotiate for fair compensation, and defend your rights.
With years of experience helping injured workers get their lives back on track, Ken Hesser is your best ally to get a favorable settlement. Contact us today to request a case consultation.