If you suffered an injury at the workplace or while performing job duties, you may be wondering what legal options are available to recover compensation to pay for medical treatment, lost wages, and even pain and suffering from the entire ordeal. Florida workers have two options: a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
Workers’ compensation is a mandatory insurance program designed to cover employees in the event of an on-the-job injury. In most cases, the only option an injured worker has is to file a worker’s compensation claim.
Injured employees do not need to prove fault in order to obtain workers’ comp benefits. Even if you accidentally caused your injury, you are still entitled to these benefits.
In a workers’ compensation case, you can only receive compensation for medical bills and weekly wages, as well as permanent impairment and vocational rehabilitation, if necessary. You cannot receive compensation for pain and suffering.
By contrast, a personal injury lawsuit requires an injured party to prove that the other party was negligent and their negligence leads to the underlying accident. However, since workers’ compensation laws ensure all injured workers would get some weekly benefits and their medical expenses covered in the event of a workplace accident, they—in return—lose the right to sue their employers or coworkers for negligence.
A personal injury award includes some of the same damages from a workers’ compensation case. However, you can also receive compensation for all lost wages, lost earning potential, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and even punitive damages.
There are a few situations where an injured worker can file both types of claims. If the accident and/or injury was caused by a third party or an individual unrelated to the employee’s job (i.e. contractor due to unsafe working conditions, property owner due to premises liability, architect due to defective design, manufacturer due to defective equipment, etc.), then he/she may file a separate personal injury claim against the third party. Additionally, if your employer intentionally hurt an employee or has insufficient workers’ compensation insurance, then the employee can sue the employer in civil court.