If I Have a Work Related Injury can I Bring a Claim Against an Entity or Person Other Than My Employer’s Worker’s Compensation Insurer?
Yes, if the injury was caused by the neglect of a person or entity other than your employer. Chapter 440 of the Florida Statutes provides employers with immunity from negligence or personal injury claims brought by employees as long as the employer had worker’s compensation insurance coverage in place. However, that immunity does not apply to any person or entity other than the injured person’s employer and co-workers.
Whether you have the ability to person a personal injury claim outside of your worker’s comp claim can make a huge difference. Worker’s compensation benefits are limited to receiving payment of medical bills, lost wages and a small amount for any degree of resulting permanent disability. Unlike personal injury claims, worker’s comp claims do not compensate you for pain and suffering, which can last a lifetime.
Our Jacksonville personal injury attorneys routinely handle cases where there is both a worker’s compensation claim and a separate personal injury claim. A common example occurs when a worker is injured in a car accident caused by a driver not working for the injured person’s employer. In this scenario, the injured person is entitled to receive both worker’s compensation benefits and compensation from the at-fault driver’s bodily injury insurance coverage. In one case, our law firm recovered $1,600,000.00 for a woman whose foot was run over by a forklift operator working for a company delivering product to her employer’s Jacksonville warehouse.
Other examples can be less obvious and may require a lawyer experienced in work related claims to determine whether a third party has responsibility. For example, an injury caused by machinery may give rise to a product liability claim against the manufacturer of that product. Another common example occurs when a person working outside the employer’s facilities is injured by a fall or trip on property owned by another company or a municipality.
There are some nuances to handling cases when the client has claims for both workman’s compensation and personal injury. Because of this, is important to hire an attorney experienced in handling these types of claims. First, the employer and its insurer have a duty to cooperate with the injured claimant’s efforts in pursuing an independent at-fault party. This can provide extremely helpful information without having to file a lawsuit.
Second, it is necessary to be aware of, and successfully negotiate, the worker’s comp carrier’s right to reimbursement from a personal injury settlement. If not done correctly, this step can cost an injured client the majority of his or her settlement. Florida case law provides a formula, referred to as the Manfredo formula, through which the settlement amount is compared to the full value of the case (determined by determining 100% fault on the other party and unlimited insurance coverage).
In addition, other expenses, such as attorney fees, costs, unpaid medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses and other liens must be taken into account. Without extensive experience, attorneys can significantly underestimate the full value of the case and expenses, resulting in the client having to pay much more than what is required to the comp carrier.
Please let us know if our Jacksonville lawyers can help with your personal injury or death claim resulting from a workplace injury. If an entity other than your employer is responsible for the injury, we may be able to greatly enhance your financial recovery. Consultations are always free. If we accept your workplace injury case, you will pay us nothing unless we make a recovery for you. We handle work related personal injury cases in Jacksonville and throughout Northeast Florida.