Can I Sue My Employer for Workers’ Compensation If I Am Injured on the Job?
The question, “Can I sue my employer for workers’ compensation if I’m injured on the job?” reveals a common concern among employees who suffer workplace injuries. This question, however, might not be framed correctly, as typically, employees do not “sue” their employers for workers’ compensation. Instead, they file a claim for benefits. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand the circumstances under which you might actually sue your employer.
If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, a workers’ compensation attorney can ensure you pursue the appropriate compensation for your injuries. Though we are unlikely to “sue your lawyer for workers’ compensation” per se, Colling Gilbert Wright may be able to help you file your claim, negotiate a fair settlement, or build a solid lawsuit if warranted. Call (407) 712-7300 today for a FREE consultation.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that provides benefits to employees who become ill or injured due to their job. It is designed to cover medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, and disability benefits if the worker becomes permanently disabled. It can also provide death benefits to the families of workers who die as a result of a workplace accident.
The Florida workers’ compensation system operates as a no-fault system, according to Florida Statutes § 440.09. This means that benefits are available regardless of who caused the workplace accident, as long as the employee was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol or intentionally hurting themself.
The trade-off for this no-fault coverage is that employees are generally barred from suing their employers for workplace injuries. This is often called the “exclusive remedy” provision in workers’ compensation laws.
When Can You Sue Your Employer?
While the workers’ compensation system is designed to be an exclusive remedy, there are exceptions where you might be able to sue your employer. These typically involve situations where the employer’s conduct was intentional or egregious, such as:
If your employer deliberately causes you harm, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. For instance, if your employer physically assaults you, leading to an injury.
Gross Negligence or Egregious Conduct
If your employer’s conduct was extraordinarily reckless or showed a complete disregard for your safety, it could rise to the level of gross negligence or egregious conduct, allowing you to sue.
If your employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim—for instance, by firing or demoting you—you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Wrongful Denial or Interference
If your workers’ compensation claim is rejected wrongfully, if your employer played a role in the denial, or if they refuse to pay your workers’ compensation benefits, you may have the right to challenge the decision or file a lawsuit.
Not all employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance, but most are. If your employer should have workers’ compensation insurance but doesn’t, you may be able to sue them for damages if you’re injured on the job.
What Is the Process of Suing an Employer?
If you fall into one of the exceptions, you may be able to sue your employer. This process is significantly different from filing a workers’ compensation claim. Here’s a basic outline of the process:
1. Hiring an Attorney
If you intend to sue your employer, hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is advisable. The process is more complex than filing a workers’ compensation claim, and the rules of civil procedure must be followed closely.
2. Filing a Complaint
The lawsuit officially starts when your personal injury attorney files a complaint in the appropriate court. This document outlines your claims against your employer and the damages you are seeking.
3. Discovery Process
Both sides will then engage in discovery, which includes things like depositions and document requests. Your attorney will use this process to gather evidence to support your claims.
4. Trial or Settlement
The vast majority of cases settle before they go to trial, but if a settlement cannot be reached, your lawsuit will go to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome.
Should You Consult a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
While you often cannot sue your employer for workers’ compensation, there are exceptions where you can file a lawsuit. Most importantly, understanding your rights and the legal processes involved is crucial if you’re injured on the job.
A workers’ compensation attorney is invaluable after a workplace injury. They can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and advocate for you every step of the way. It’s essential to consult with an attorney when deciding if you have a case to sue your employer.
If you’ve suffered a workplace injury, contact Colling Gilbert Wright for a FREE consultation. It isn’t enough to just do the right thing—we will do the exceptional thing, pursuing justice and fair compensation in your case. We take pride in our service to clients in Orlando and throughout Florida.