Can You Sue Your Employer for Damages Instead of Filing a Workers Compensation Claim?

When somebody gets injured at work, one of the first things they want to know is whether they can sue their employer. As uncomfortable as it would be to do this, it seems only natural that you would want to sue the person responsible for your injuries. In Florida, as in most other states, your only option if you are injured at work is to file a workers compensation claim. Our workers’ compensation attorneys in Tampa, Florida will certainly consider the nature and extent of your injuries. They can also look to see if your case meets one of the rare exceptions to the rule. For example, if you were hurt at work because you were forced to use defective equipment, you may have a potential legal claim. For the most part, however, employees who get injured at work in the State of Florida are limited to the benefits offered through the workers compensation system.

Here, we will explain why your only recourse is the workers compensation claim. We will also briefly explain those situations in which you may be able to sue your employer for damages. If you still have questions about your own workers compensation case, feel free to contact our office directly. We offer new clients a free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to sit down with a Tampa work injury lawyer and discuss your case. If they believe that you may have a potential claim for damages in civil court, they will certainly let you know. Otherwise, they will assist you in filing your initial workers compensation claim. Additionally, if your claim is denied, they can help you file an appeal. Hopefully, it will not come to this. However, it’s good to know that if it does, you will have somebody in your corner.

The Law Requires You to Rely on the Workers Compensation System

Under Florida law, if you were injured at work, your only recourse is to file a workers compensation claim. This may seem incredibly unfair. If you got hurt on someone else’s property, you would be able to sue them in court for damages. The same thing is true if you get injured in a motor vehicle accident. Your Florida injury lawyer would be able to file a lawsuit against the other driver and their insurance company. However, that’s not the case when it comes to work-related injuries.

There are reasons why state law limits your ability to sue your employer. For many years, people who were hurt at work were allowed to file suit against their employer. What happened is that many businesses had to close their doors because it was so expensive to defend these cases. It had also gotten to the point where people would pretend they were hurt at work just so that they could collect damages. With the current workers compensation system in place, the only way to receive benefits is if your workers compensation attorney in Tampa, Florida can prove that you meet the requirements for workers comp.

workers compensation claim

Your Workers Compensation Attorney in Tampa, Florida Understands That This Doesn’t Seem Fair

One of the first things our new clients tell us is that it’s not fair that they can’t sue their employer for damages. For example, if you got injured at work and suffered extremely serious injuries, you may feel that you deserve damages for pain and suffering. Obviously, when you file a workers compensation claim, you only receive two types of benefits. The first type of benefit is that your medical treatment will be covered. You will not be responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses related to your workplace injury.

The second type of benefit that you will receive are weekly replacement wages. As long as you meet the criteria for workers compensation, you will receive weekly benefit checks equal to 2/3 of your average weekly wages. These benefits will continue until you either return to work, or your case is settled some other way. You will note, that this does not mean you are entitled to damages for pain and suffering or any other type of legal damages for that matter.

The Law is Meant to Protect Both Workers and Their Employers

The reason the state of Florida implemented the workers compensation system was to protect both employees and their employers. Prior to the workers’ comp system being implemented, when people got hurt at work, their employer had the right to let them go rather than take care of them. You may have seen pictures of people in the 1920s and 1930s begging for work at the docks and on street corners. If somebody was injured at work, it was easy enough for their employer to let them go and pick up one of these transient workers instead. By providing people with workers compensation benefits, the state of Florida was preventing this sort of thing from happening. At the same time, the workers comp system also benefits employers.

Prior to having the system in place, companies would have to pay attorneys to defend each and every lawsuit that was filed against them by an injured employee. Between the legal fees to defend these cases and the actual damages they were required to pay out, many businesses in Florida had to close their doors. Not only was this bad for the economy, but it also created further unemployment issues. If companies were closing left and right because they could not afford to defend lawsuits filed by their workers, there were less companies offering jobs to people out of work.

Call One of Our Tampa Work Injury Lawyers to Find Out if You Meet One of These Exceptions

As with any other type of law, there are a handful of exceptions to the workers’ compensation rules. When you meet with your Tampa work injury lawyer, they can let you know if you meet any of these exceptions. For example, as briefly mentioned above, if you were injured because there was defective equipment on company property, you may have a legal claim for damages. Whether that claim is against your employer or the company that manufactured the equipment is something that your workers’ compensation attorney in Tampa, Florida can help you determine. Since we offer all new clients a free, initial consultation, you can come in and discuss your case without having to pay a dime.