Can I Sue Workers’ Comp for Pain and Suffering In Florida?
Workers’ compensation provides a way for many people to recover their losses when they get injured on the job. But workers’ comp does not cover all types of injury-related losses, and it also does not apply to all workers.
If you’ve been injured at work, you need to have a clear understanding of your legal rights – including what losses you are entitled to recover through workers’ comp, if any.
Are You Eligible for Workers’ Comp?
There are three basic eligibility criteria to file for workers’ compensation benefits in Florida. If you can answer “Yes” (or “I don’t know”) to each of the following questions, you should consult with a lawyer promptly about filing for workers’ comp:
1. Are You an Employee?
Workers’ compensation benefits are available to employees. Independent contractors, volunteers, day laborers, and domestic workers typically are not covered.
Florida law requires companies with four or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and it requires construction companies to carry insurance regardless of their number of employees. Other employers may choose to provide coverage voluntarily, though most do not.
2. Do You Have a Job-Related Injury or Illness?
To seek workers’ compensation benefits, you must be able to prove that you have suffered a job-related injury or illness. If you got hurt or sick on personal time, you are not eligible for benefits. This is true even if your injury or illness prevents you from doing your job.
3. Do You Still Have Time to File?
Under Florida law, you must report your injury or illness to your employer within 30 days in order to qualify for workers’ comp. If you wait too long, you could lose your right to benefits.
However, it isn’t always clear when this 30-day period starts to run. As a result, we recommend consulting with a lawyer regardless of how long it has been since you suffered your job-related injury or illness.
You Cannot “Sue Workers’ Comp”
Another point to clarify is that you cannot “sue” workers’ comp. Unlike some other states, Florida does not have a government agency responsible for administering a statewide workers’ compensation system. Instead, employers in Florida must either purchase workers’ compensation insurance or “self-insure” and provide coverage directly.
In most cases, it is not necessary to sue in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits. With an experienced workers’ comp lawyer representing you, there is a good chance that you will be able to secure benefits without going to court. However, this outcome is not guaranteed.
If your employer or its insurance company won’t pay you benefits, you may need to file an appeal. This begins with seeking compensation through the Florida Employee Assistance Office and the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims. If these efforts are unsuccessful, then your lawyer may sue to collect the benefits you deserve.
Workers’ Comp Does Not Cover Pain and Suffering
While workers’ compensation covers medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages, it does not cover your pain and suffering. So, regardless of whether you receive regular benefit payments, negotiate a settlement, or sue to recover workers’ comp, you will not receive any compensation for the non-economic damages associated with your job-related injury or illness.
Even so, filing a successful workers’ comp claim is still an important part of the recovery process. You need to make sure your medical bills are covered, and you need to make sure you receive the maximum disability benefits (wage replacement) available to you. This is not an easy process, and it is not a process you want to try to handle on your own.
How Can I Recover Compensation for My Pain and Suffering?
Do you have other options available? In some cases, it will be possible for injured workers to recover just compensation for their pain and suffering.
You may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering if:
- Your employer does not provide workers’ compensation coverage; or,
- A party other than your employer is responsible for your job-related injury or illness.
While workers’ compensation benefits are available to eligible employees on a “no-fault” basis, recovering compensation for pain and suffering requires proof of liability. This makes it especially important to consult with a lawyer promptly.
Start Building Your Workers’ Comp Claim Today
Work injury claims can be more complicated than they initially appear. This is especially true if you believe a negligent third party caused the accident.
The experienced attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter can review your case and advise you of your options for obtaining compensation. We have achieved significant results on behalf of injured workers, and we can put our knowledge and resources to work for you.
Please contact Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter by calling (407) 712-7300 today for a free case evaluation. Our work injury lawyers serve clients throughout Florida, including Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and other areas.