A workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim can sound similar but knowing the difference between the two can be very important to ensure you are compensated adequately in the event of an injury to you or a loved one. In many cases, you may only have the option to file one or the other.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation claims are structured to allow an employee who was injured on the job receive some compensation for that injury without the need for the typical court system. From an employers’ perspective, having workers’ compensation insurance is a valuable investment because it can save the employer extensive court and litigation costs in the event of an injury. In general, companies in Florida with 4 or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Furthermore, workers’ compensation can cover funeral expenses and pay a benefit to the family of the worker under some circumstances. If you or your loved one was injured or killed at work, it is important to contact an experienced Florida lawyer right away to discuss the laws that apply to your case and the compensation you deserve.
Workers’ compensation claims are only related to work injuries of employees. In Florida, for workers’ compensation benefits, there is a 30-day time limit on reporting injuries to an employer. No fault needs to be proven and the recovery is typically two-thirds of the employee’s former wages and does not include pain and suffering compensation; however, this benefit is not subject to income tax. In Florida, if you recover under the workers’ compensation system, the employer is able to limit its liability to that recovery. In other words, you cannot also sue the employer for a personal injury recovery, with a few minor exceptions, such as if the employer intentionally injured you. There are also some exceptions to job injuries that are not covered under Florida’s workers’ compensation statutes. For example, the following are not covered:
- Disability or death due to an accidental acceleration of a disease resulting from habitual alcohol use.
- A disease that “manifests itself in the fear of or dislike for an individual because of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or handicap.”
- Injury/disease resulting from exposure to mold or fungus, unless there is “clear and convincing” evidence demonstrating that exposure at the levels the employee was exposed can cause his or her injury.
If you are considered an independent contractor by your work, you could still be eligible for workers’ compensation. Under Florida law, several factors are considered to determine whether you are an independent contractor. First, it matters what industry you are in. If you are in construction, you cannot be considered an independent contractor under Florida workers’ compensation law. If you are in a non-construction industry, the law looks at whether you have your own place of business, whether you have your own federal employer identification number, whether you receive your compensation as a business or individual, whether you have a business bank account, whether you do work for multiple companies, and whether you work on a bid basis under a contract.
On the other hand, personal injury lawsuits do not necessarily involve employment. Some types of personal injury claims are as follows:
- Intentional torts, such as assault
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability, such as slip-and-fall cases
- Products liability
Unlike workers’ compensation cases, personal injury cases could happen in any different area; they are not limited to a working environment. Moreover, you will have to prove liability in a personal injury case in order for you to recover money. You will have to show not only that the person or company you are suing had a legal duty toward you, but also that the duty was violated and that you suffered demonstrable damages. In addition, pain and suffering damages are often a primary component of personal injury cases. Personal injury cases could also be filed against more than one responsible defendant. Like workers’ compensation cases, there are strict timelines by which personal injury cases must be filed. In Florida, you will typically have four years to file your case.
You may be curious what happens if you were also partially at fault. In Florida, for these types of cases, the amount you receive at the end of a trial would be reduced by the percentage you were at fault.
Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims may overlap with a workers’ compensation claim. For example, if you were injured by a product at work, you may be able to obtain a recovery from the product’s manufacturer in addition to your workers’ compensation recovery. When third parties are involved, the case and recovery become increasingly complex. You may still be able to sue the third party under Florida law, but your benefit could be altered as a result. If you or your loved one has been injured and you are not sure whether to file a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury claim, or both, it is important to immediately contact an experienced Florida firm that knows both areas well to discuss the laws that apply to your case and the compensation you deserve.
Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney for a FREE Case Evaluation
If you or your loved one has been injured, your decisions regarding the injury can have lifelong repercussions, ranging from serious health issues to expensive medical bills. It is vital to have an experienced advocate ready to walk you and your loved ones through the litigation process. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed at work, the Dolman Law Group is here to help you obtain the results you need. The Dolman Law Group includes the premier workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers in the St. Petersburg area, and we are waiting to fight for your rights and the compensation you deserve. Contact us at (727) 222-6922 today for a FREE consultation.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712