Every day, more than 12 people are injured or killed in accidents that occur in the workplace. In 2014, 4,821 workers were killed on the job. So far this year, 54 workers have been fatally injured while at work in Florida alone. In most cases, injuries on the job would fall under the Florida workers’ compensation law, but there are certain situations where a worker may be able to file a personal injury claim against an employer after a workplace accident.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Law Generally Limits Personal Injury Claims
Typically, injured workers are not permitted to file lawsuits against their employers for workers’ compensation claims due to the exclusive remedy provision of the Florida workers’ compensation law, which states that employees must use the workers’ compensation benefit system for injury claims. However, there is an exception that allows employees to file personal injury claims if they can prove that they sustained injuries because of an intentional tort committed by the employer.
However, in 2000 the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in Turner v. PCR, Inc that when an employer either exhibits a deliberate intent to injure a worker or engages in conduct that is “substantially certain to result in injury or death,” the employer is not immune from a personal injury lawsuit. The Court held that the plaintiff – the injured worker – only needed to prove that his or her employer “should have known” that an action was substantially certain to result in injury or death, rather than requiring a plaintiff to prove that the employer actually knew that the action would result in an injury.
So When Can You File a Lawsuit Against an Employer?
After the Court’s ruling, Florida law was updated to include the intentional tort exception to the workers’ compensation exclusive remedy doctrine. The exception states that an intentional tort exists, as opposed to a mere “accident,” when the employee “proves by clear and convincing evidence that the employer deliberately intended to injure the employee” or “engaged in conduct that the employer knew, based on prior similar accidents or on explicit warnings specifically identifying a known danger, was virtually certain to result in injury or death to the employee.” Additionally, the employee must not have been aware of the risk involved because the danger was not apparent and the employer deliberately concealed or misrepresented the danger so that the employee could not use his or her informed judgment about whether to perform the work.
This legislation deviated from the Court’s ruling by requiring plaintiffs to prove that the employer actually knew of the danger, rather than allowing plaintiffs to prove merely that the employer should have known that the work would be substantially certain to result in injury or death. This change makes such lawsuits more difficult for plaintiffs, as it is often difficult to show actual knowledge of another individual.
Need More Help?
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury at work and you believe it may be due to an employer’s intentional act, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Florida law makes it difficult to file a lawsuit against an employer, so getting legal help is vital. The experienced personal injury lawyer, John Piccin of Piccin & Glynn has over 40 years of experience and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call John at 352-581-6174 for your free initial case consultation today.