Can I Sue Outside The System In Florida?
Not very often. The Sunshine State, like most other jurisdictions, has a very broad exclusive remedy law. Injured workers usually cannot sue their employers in court. Likewise, injured subcontractor employees cannot short-circuit the exclusive remedy law and file legal actions against general contractors. However, there are some exceptions to this law, some of which are outlined below.
Workers’ compensation benefits usually include partial lost wage replacement and reasonable medical bill payment. Injured workers don’t have to prove fault to receive these benefits. However, they must prove the illness or injury was work-related. They must also prove the extent of their damages. A Tampa workers’ compensation attorney is a valuable partner in these areas.
Workers’ compensation immunity doesn’t apply to everyone involved in the employer-employee relationships. Some exceptions include:
- Materialmen: People who supply materials to employers may sue these employers in court if they are injured on the job. Materialmen usually lift a lot, so back injuries are very common.
- Parent Corporation: An injured employee of a wholly-owned subsidiary may sue the parent corporation for negligence in court. The same rule applies to wholly-owned subsidiary employees who are diagnosed with repetitive stress disorder or another occupational disease.
- Premises Owner: Many employers rent space from a building owner or other premises owner. Workers’ compensation doesn’t shield these entities from liability. They still have a duty to provide a safe environment for all invitees, including employees of a tenant.
Additionally, workers’ compensation does not apply to independent contractors or other non-employees. If injured, these individuals are free to sue almost anyone. A court usually determines who is and isn’t an independent contractor.
As mentioned, many Claims Examiners deny claims on the grounds that the injury or illness wasn’t work-related. That’s especially true if the victim had a pre-existing or coexisting condition that contributed to the risk or severity of an injury.
Denied claimants usually partner with a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney and appeal these denials to an Administrative Law Judge. However, these victims could also abandon their workers’ compensation claims and file civil damage actions against their employers. If that happens, the employer may be unable to raise some “silver bullet” negligence defenses.
If a manufacturer supplied a defective or dangerous product that caused injury, the victim can sue this company in court, even if the victim receives workers’ compensation benefits. Generally, companies are strictly liable for the injuries their defective or dangerous products cause. So, these claims are a lot like workers’ compensation claims in many ways.
However, these third-party claims are quite complex, since they are usually federal court claims. Additionally, the employer, or the employer’s insurance company, is usually entitled to a subrogation lien against any damages awarded.
By design, workers’ compensation only applies to unintentional injuries. So, almost all states have an intentional tort exception. However, in Florida, this exception is very limited. A Tampa personal injury attorney must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the employer actually knew, based on prior similar incidents or explicit warnings specifically identifying a known danger, the employee would almost certainly be injured or killed.
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Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced job injury lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.