“Workers’ compensation” refers to a set of laws that govern how workplace injuries are handled, as well as a type of insurance. Under the workers’ compensation system, employees who are injured on the job report their injuries to their employer, who then files an insurance claim on their behalf. If the claim is approved, the employee receives compensation from the insurance carrier.
Workers compensation vs personal injury lawsuits
A workers’ compensation claim is not a lawsuit against an employer. It is a type of insurance claim, and it’s the employer who files it, not the worker. In fact, the purpose of workers’ compensation is to prevent personal injury lawsuits resulting from workplace injuries. Most states, including Florida, require employers to carry workers compensation insurance.
While not without its downsides, the system is supposed to benefit both employees and employers. Injured employees can receive compensation without the time, energy, and cost of a lawsuit. Likewise, employers are protected from lawsuits resulting from workplace injuries, even in cases where negligence can be clearly established.
Workers’ compensation doesn’t mean employees can never sue. An employee who is injured by a defective product may sue the manufacturer. And of course, an employer may be sued for harassment, assault, or other forms of workplace misconduct. However, an accident, even if caused by an employer’s negligence, is not grounds for a lawsuit.
What’s covered and what’s not
Most workplace injuries are covered by workers compensation, but there are exceptions to be aware of. A worker may not be covered if:
- They are classified as a contractor, rather than an employee. While some workers are wrongly classified this way, contractors are not generally covered by workers’ compensation.
- Their injuries weren’t work-related. This can sometimes be hard to establish, but in general, an injury must have occurred in the workplace or while performing work duties.
- Their injuries were caused by reckless disregard for safety. For example, an employee who refuses to use safety equipment may lose their right to compensation if this results in an injury. Injuries resulting from horseplay are sometimes disqualified, sometimes not.
- Their injuries were caused by drug or alcohol use.
- Their injuries are deliberately self-inflicted.
Workers’ compensation has its upsides and downsides. If you’re having trouble navigating workers’ compensation laws, we can help you. Give us a call, email, or text message for a free consultation!