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Florida Workers’ Compensation Employer Immunity Cases

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You may have questions regarding whether you are permitted to bring a separate negligence action against the employer and go beyond the benefits of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act if, as an injured worker, you were frustrated with the limitations connected with the Florida Workers’ Compensation system.

An injury can happen to anyone, even in “white collar” or the most sedentary professions. A teacher can injure when trying to break up a fight, a machinist loses a finger in heavy machinery, a construction worker is injured after falling from a scaffold, or an employee trips over boxes on an office floor. When this happens, you need to consult an efficient Broward and Palm Beach County workers’ compensation attorneys at the law firm of Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., and they will guide you through the system and get you the compensation you deserve.

So, what is the cause of increasing lawsuits between employees and employers? The results of most cases of injuries are due to an employer’s failure to take proper safety precautions, and the situation is not the result of expected or natural consequences of being in a dangerous profession.

The Immunity of Worker’s Compensation

Workers’ compensation immunity is the answer to those questions or concerns above. As an employee, the workers’ compensation law prohibits you from suing your employer for almost any injury type on the job, which is not associated with the workers’ compensation system itself.

The worker is supposed to be the beneficiary of this prohibition initially. The workers’ compensation doesn’t require that the employee prove the employer’s negligence and is much faster, unlike the personal injury system where liability in a court system can take years after the filing of a lawsuit and a victim needs to prove negligence. Without showing who did anything wrong, the workers’ compensation system would offer an injured worker payment for lost wages and medical expenses. The worker gets paid quickly while still in recovery.

There won’t be any lawsuit from the employee against the employer in return. Loss of future earnings, anguish, and damages for pain and suffering are not rewarded in compensation cases, unlike personal injury suits.

There is no option in the trade-off; the employee cannot elect a workers’ compensation benefits or personal injury negligence. The employee may use those benefits if workers’ compensation benefits are available. However, the worker cannot sue in negligence. It is limited by the damages that workers’ compensation provides, even if there is no full payment of workers’ compensation for injuries sustained.

System May Be Broken

The workers’ compensation system doesn’t function as it was intended to do. Before workers have received full payment for lost wages or treatment, they will have their compensation benefits cut off and are denied their entitled benefits in many cases. Courts have looked crucially at attempts to limit the workers’ rights to compensation benefits since workers have waived any right to bring a personal injury lawsuit, therefore, giving up their access to courts.

In 2009, the Florida Legislature limited the right of an employee to collect attorney’s fees in an effort to curtail workers’ compensation claims. In a recent case at Florida Supreme Court, it was held that the limitation is unconstitutional, stating the hardship employees could have to obtain legal representation with that cap. The court also struck a cap on temporary total disability benefits.

When Can You Sue Your Employers

In a conventional injury lawsuit, an employee has the power to sue an employer for negligence or full damages only under limited circumstances. There is a need for knowledge based on warnings or “similar accidents” about the same specific danger that caused the injury for the employee to prove that the employer knew about the threat, which results in damage.

Then, an employee must prove that they are not aware of the risk since the danger was not apparent or visible. The employee must also demonstrate that the employer concealed, hid, or covered up the dangerous condition deliberately. Clear and convincing evidence must also accompany the employee’s claim.

Compensation Immunity Exceptions

As long as a third party is not working for the same employer, an employee can bring a suit against any third party. As such, an employee can sue a drunk driver that drives into the construction site and hits him or her. Workers’ compensation insurers may claim an injury was not caused when the employee was on the job to avoid payments. The worker can then bring a reasonable negligence action in those cases.

You need to ensure you have attorneys who understand how to overcome all the legal defenses that may be put up against you regardless of how and where you are injured. Contact Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. today to discuss your injuries and your case.

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