You’ve been injured at work, is it Workers Compensation, or a Personal Injury Suit?

Almost always, a work-related injury falls under Workers Compensation, not under Personal Injury.

Workers Compensation

Nearly every employer, including out of state companies are required to have Workers Compensation Insurance. There are a few exceptions, which we will look at in a separate blog post. These Workers Comp Exceptions can be found on the Florida CIO’s website by clicking here.

The main differences in coverage are

Negligence is NOT a factor in Workers Comp Claims

If the injury is work-related, then you are covered under Workers’ Comp. “Negligence, or “whose fault is it” is not relevant to a Workers Compensation claim.

Pain and Suffering

There is no compensation for damages like Pain and Suffering with a Workers’ Compensation claim. Whatever the injury is, it must be taken care of by the employers’ insurance plan for workers’ comp. However there are no Pain and Suffering, and no Punitive damages allowed. A claimant in a Personal Injury suit is entitled to compensation for Pain and Suffering, and punitive damages.

Partial Income Loss Only

Workers comp receives 2/3 of lost wages, not full compensation. An accident that is not work-related, and files for a Personal Injury Suit, is entitled to all lost wages.

Can I file both Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Law claims?

In general, no. As with every rule, there are exceptions, but in general, a work-related injury must go through your employer’s Workers Compensation Insurance, and you are not eligible to sue your employer in a Personal Injury Lawsuit claim. In general, you have no alternative but the Workers’ Comp claim.

Reasons you might file a Personal Injury Lawsuit, instead of Workers Compensation

There are 3 reasons that “might” open the door to your filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit instead of a Workers Compensation Claim.

  1. Your employer set out to hurt you intentionally. This standard is high, intentionality is a much higher standard than carelessness. For instance, a fellow employee not putting up a wet floor sign, might be carelessness on the part of the other employee, but it is not deliberate on the part of the employer.
  2. Your employer doesn’t have enough Workers’ Compensation or no Worker’s Comp Insurance. If you “run out” the employers’ existing insurance benefits, the door is opened for a Personal Injury Lawsuit. In Florida, there are also some employers that are not subject to the requirement of carrying that WC Insurance as well.
  3. Someone other than the employer is at fault. While you may not be able to sue your employer, what happens if you are engaged in company business driving to a client, and a drunk driver hits your car, causing you an injury? You were on work time, doing work business, you can’t sue for damages, full lost wages, or pain and suffering under Worker’s comp, but you could sue the other driver under Personal Injury Civil laws, as opposed to your employer under Workers Compensation.
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