A person who receives no monetary compensation for his or her services is typically presumed to be a volunteer. If you routinely volunteer for organizations in the state of Florida, you may wonder whether you would be covered by workers’ compensation insurance if you were suddenly hurt on the job. Although volunteers could be injured in the course of their duties, Florida workers’ compensation coverage is generally only available to employees.
Although the Florida Workers Compensation Act specifically exempts volunteers from being defined as an employee, there are a few exceptions. The most notable exception is when an individual volunteers for a governmental entity, whether state, county, city, or federal. In this case, the volunteer is considered an employee and eligible for Florida workers’ compensation coverage. However, even under this exception, if you are volunteering for a government entity, you might not be eligible for indemnity benefits
Even if you do not volunteer for a government entity, but you are paid in kind for your services, you might be considered an employee. For example, a volunteer who is paid with reduced rent or free meals may be considered to be an employee. Keep in mind that there must be evidence of intent to enter this relationship.
When assessing whether a volunteer qualifies for workers’ compensation following an injury accident, the first question the Florida courts will address is whether the organization was in the public or private sector. There are some “grey” areas, which would allow a volunteer with a non-profit to qualify for worker’s compensation, such as in a public-private partnership.
Where Can Injured Volunteers Turn?
Since Florida volunteers are only sometimes entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the event of an injury, where can they collect compensation for their injuries? If an injured volunteer is not eligible for Florida workers’ compensation, can he or she file a lawsuit?
Organizations in Florida who utilize volunteers should consider the likelihood of an on-the-job injury occurring to one of their volunteers. Should a volunteer become injured at work, there may be extensive financial and legal consequences. An employer’s liability following an injury to a volunteer could potentially exceed the value of the services provided by the volunteer, making this is an important issue to settle before an accident occurs.
If you are injured while volunteering, it is important to determine your status as a volunteer prior to seeking legal counsel. Speaking to an experienced and skilled Florida workers’ compensation attorney can be a first step towards determining if you are eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits or whether you are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney will investigate your employment status, the accident, and any other evidence necessary to help you choose the legal path that is best for you.
Work with An Experienced Florida Workers Compensation Lawyer
If you’ve been injured as a volunteer, you may not know where to turn for help. If your injuries were the result of negligence on the part of the organization or another employee, there might be ways for you to collect the compensation you need to recover, even if you don’t qualify for workers’ compensation. A Florida workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate this process and protect your rights every step of the way. Contact Scott J. Sternberg & Associates, P.A. online or at (561) 687-5660 today for a free consultation. We offer evening and weekend appointments in our offices in Palm Beach County, Martin County, and Orlando.