Can You Sue Workers’ Compensation for Emotional Distress?
Getting injured at work can impact all aspects of your life. Not only can you experience significant financial losses; but, if you have been seriously injured, you can suffer from emotional distress as well. While workers’ compensation does not cover emotional distress in Florida, injured workers can sue for emotional distress damages outside of workers’ comp in some cases.
At Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter, we know how a workplace accident can turn a person’s life upside-down. Our Orlando workers’ compensation attorneys have the knowledge, skill, and resources you need to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Why Doesn’t Workers’ Compensation Cover Emotional Distress?
Why can’t you sue workers’ compensation for emotional distress? The reason lies in the fact that workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system under Florida law. Employers are required to pay benefits to qualifying employees even when they aren’t responsible for their employees’ injuries. But, in exchange for this “no-fault” liability, the amount employers (or their insurance companies) have to pay is limited.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover in Florida?
If workers’ compensation does not cover emotional distress, then what does it cover? In Florida, there are three main types of workers’ compensation benefits:
- Medical Benefits – These benefits cover the cost of diagnosing and treating your job-related injury, provided that you see an approved doctor.
- Disability Benefits – These benefits cover up to two-thirds of your lost wages when you are unable to work due to a job-related injury.
- Death Benefits – In cases involving fatal workplace accidents, eligible family members can collect death benefits including funeral expenses and partial wage replacement up to between $100,000 and $150,000.
While workers’ compensation does not cover emotional distress in Florida, the benefits available to injured workers and family members can still be substantial. As a result, if you have been injured or lost a loved one on the job, it is extremely important that you speak with a lawyer about filing a claim. There are strict deadlines and other requirements you need to meet in order to preserve your eligibility, so you should schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.
When Can You Sue for Emotional Distress After an Accident at Work?
While it is not possible to sue workers’ compensation for emotional distress, it is still possible to recover financial compensation for emotional distress in some cases. To be able to sue for emotional distress, you must have a claim outside of workers’ comp.
There are three reasons why you might have a claim outside of workers’ comp:
- You Aren’t Covered Under Workers’ Comp – If your employer isn’t required to provide workers’ compensation coverage, or if you aren’t covered under workers’ comp (i.e. because you are an independent contractor instead of an employee), you can sue your employer if it is to blame for your job-related injury.
- Your Employer Isn’t Complying with the Law – While Florida law requires most employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage, not all companies comply. If your employer isn’t complying with the law, it isn’t entitled to the law’s “no fault” protections, and you may be able to sue for emotional distress.
- You Have a Claim Against a Third Party – From property owners to contractors and subcontractors, various “third parties” can be liable for injuries on the job. If you have a claim against a company other than your employer, you can seek full compensation for all of your injury-related losses. This includes compensation for your emotional distress.
If you have a claim against a third party and you qualify for workers’ compensation, a lawyer can help you file both types of claims. This way, you can rely on your workers’ compensation benefits while your personal injury claim is pending.
How Do You Sue for Emotional Distress After an Accident at Work?
Suing for emotional distress after an accident at work requires a prompt and thorough investigation. It also requires evidence of both the financial and non-financial effects of your job-related injury. As a result, it is important that you hire a lawyer as soon as possible. If you have a claim outside of workers’ compensation, your lawyer will need to work quickly to collect evidence of liability, and you may need to see a doctor other than the doctor your employer recommends. You will also need to avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your claim.
Are you suffering from emotional distress after an accident at work? If so, you should discuss your legal rights with a lawyer promptly. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner your lawyer can begin working on your case.
To schedule a free consultation with a Florida workers’ compensation lawyer at Colling, Gilbert, Wright & Carter, call 800-766-1000 or tell us how we can reach you online now.