Normally, employers in Florida are protected from personal injury litigation if they have valid workers’ compensation coverage. This is because the worker’s comp system is set up so that injured workers give up their right to sue in exchange for receiving benefit payments. It’s referred to as a no-fault system because it doesn’t matter who is at fault. However, there are instances when there may be some exceptions.
For example, an employee may be able to go beyond filing a workers’ compensation claim and initiate a lawsuit for a wrongful civil action if it’s believed that an employer intentionally caused them harm. “Tort injuries” include both physical injuries and emotional distress. Actions that might warrant pursuing a civil claim include physical assault or threats of assault, confining an employee against their will without legal authority, intentionally lying to an employee in a way that contributed to a sustained injury, or harm caused by someone at work spreading false allegations.
It’s also possible for an employee to pursue legal action against a third party who may have been responsible for injuries sustained while on the job. Situations like this might include legal action taken against the manufacturer of defective equipment that resulted in a worker’s injuries. However, part of any awarded damages may have to be given to the employer to repay workers’ compensation benefits already received. The employer and their insurer may also opt to become part of the lawsuit against a responsible third party.
Since it’s not always easy to determine if a workers’ compensation claim is appropriate or if there is just cause to pursue civil actions against an employer or third party, it might be helpful for an injured employee to consult with an attorney. A lawyer may get involved with denial or termination of benefits cases if all administrative processes have been exhausted. Appeals are generally made to either a special workers’ compensation board or a special type of court. An attorney may be able to guide an injured worker through the claims process, especially if there are certain documentation requirements.