Whether you are a construction worker, a teacher, or a nurse, if you’ve suffered an injury in the course and scope of your job, workers’ compensation may be your only source of financial recompense. However, workers’ compensation claims can be quite nuanced and confusing. To help give you some clarity, this personal injury attorney in Lakeland, Florida is going to discuss some of the main things you should know after being injured on the job.
Things You Should Know About Workers’ Compensation
First and foremost, you do not need to establish negligence when filing a workers’ compensation claim in Florida, and your employer will cover the cost of your medical bills as well as a portion of your missed income during your recovery. With that said, it’s important to note that the damages you can recover from your workers’ compensation claim are often insufficient. For example, you cannot recover damages for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. Because workers’ compensation is considered the “exclusive remedy” for most job-related injuries in Florida, you will not be able to sue your employer for damages. As such, many personal injury attorneys in Lakeland, Florida focus on establishing the potential liability of a third party other than your direct employer.
What is Premises Liability?
Most job-related injury cases operate within the legal concept of “premises liability,” which refers to an injury caused by a dangerous condition on someone else’s property. You must establish the property owner’s negligence (failure to exercise reasonable care) in owning or maintaining the property to win an injury lawsuit. It is worth noting that the existence of a dangerous condition that resulted in your injury does not always indicate that the property owner was negligent. In most cases, you must also prove that the property owner knew — or reasonably should have known — that the conditions were dangerous and yet failed to take appropriate measures to address the risk.
If you have recently been injured at work and believe a third party was at least partially to blame, you should go over your legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney in Lakeland, Florida. You may be able to seek additional damages beyond workers’ compensation.
Let’s look at a recent example. A work-related injury lawsuit heard by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in July 2020 did not end in favor of the employee. The case collapsed because of an “employment liability waiver.”
In Diveston Merlien v Jm Family Enterprises, Inc., a security guard named Diveston Merlien sued his employer’s client, JM Family Enterprises, for negligence after suffering a slip and fall injury at their facility. Mr. Merlien could have had a solid third-party liability case if he had not signed an exculpatory clause in his employment agreement that barred him from suing any employer’s client for injuries covered by workers’ compensation.
Mr. Merlien had to prove that the employment agreement either did not clearly explain the rights he was giving up or violated societal interests somehow. The trial court disagreed, saying that the rights he relinquished were clearly communicated in the agreement and that the waiver was in accordance with public policy. The decision was upheld by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which stated that the agreement was in line with workers’ compensation law and applied only to negligent conduct and not intentional torts, which occur when someone deliberately causes you harm. His Lakeland personal injury attorney argued that F.S. § 440.39 — which allows employees to sue third parties for damages — was not included in the agreement, and that one should not have to give up the right to sue a third-party to collect their workers’ compensation benefits.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, and if a third-party property owner was partly to blame, Tonya Stewart Law is here to help. As the best personal injury attorney in Lakeland, Florida, Tonya and her legal team can help you build a strong case to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (863) 241-5504 to request a free legal consultation.