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Workers' compensation does not always compensate

Like many states, Florida's workers' compensation system has its flaws. Workers may complain about the amount of benefits they receive, and employers complain about the cost of keeping everyone insured. Nevertheless, in general, the idea of providing this type of insurance for employees benefits everyone.

The system requires employers to purchase insurance coverage in case you are injured on the job. This way, you do not have to worry about losing wages or paying medical bills because of an accident that happened at work. Your employer benefits because workers' compensation prevents you from filing a lawsuit against the company, its owner or its managers, which could financially devastate the business. Despite this protection, there may be times when a lawsuit is appropriate.

When can I sue my employer?

Obviously, if an employer fails to provide the required workers' compensation coverage, you have every right to file a lawsuit if you are injured on the job. In such a case, the lawsuit may seek the amount of benefits you would have claimed through the insurance, or you may seek compensatory damages. However, even if your company provides the proper insurance, you may have cause for a lawsuit in a number of situations, for example:

  • You do not sue your employer in his or her capacity as an employer. For example, if you are injured on the job using a product manufactured by the company you work for, you may sue the company in its capacity as the manufacturer, not as your employer.
  • You have an accident at the jobsite when you are off duty.
  • Your employer fraudulently conceals the connection between your injury or illness and the hazards of the job, causing your injury or illness to worsen.
  • Your employer intended to cause you injury.
  • A third party contributed to your accident or illness.

An example of a third-party claim is when you fall from scaffolding and investigators determine the structure was defective. You may sue the manufacturer of the scaffolding in addition to collecting workers' compensation. However, in Florida and some other states, winning a third-party lawsuit may affect the amount of workers' compensation benefits you receive. The law may require you to refund the difference to the insurance company.

While workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy in most work-related injuries, your situation may be an exception. Because some of these circumstances require specific elements of proof, you may benefit from seeking advice from an experienced legal professional before proceeding with what may be a complicated and delicate matter.

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