If you suffer an injury on the job, it’s important to know your rights and what legal options are available to you. Workers’ compensation enables injured employees to manage finances after an injury, but workers’ compensation benefits alone may not be enough to cover the total cost associated with a work-related accident.
In Florida, all employers with at least four employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. This requirement ensures injured workers can pay medical bills and recover lost wages from time spent out of work. However, if you were injured at work, it’s important to recognize when you may be entitled to more than just workers’ compensation benefits.
You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer in some situations. Employers must ensure employee workplaces are free from safety hazards, and they must address any reported safety concerns in a timely and efficient manner. If an employer fails in this obligation and an employee is injured as a result, the employer is liable.
Workers’ compensation may cover the immediate costs of an injury such as medical bills and lost wages, but it doesn’t cover pain and suffering, the costs of any necessary subsequent treatment, and potentially diminished earning capacity. Never hesitate to report an injury to your employer and request a workers’ compensation claim. It is illegal for your employer to interfere with a workers’ compensation claim or take any adverse action in response.
The term “retaliation” in a legal sense describes any negative or punitive action an employer takes against an employee for performing a protected action. Protected actions include testifying in a legal matter involving the company, filing for workers’ compensation, whistleblowing, or reporting an unaddressed safety issue, and other actions that—despite the repercussions to the company—the employee makes in good faith.
An employer who engages in any of the following is guilty of retaliation:
- Purposefully delaying or failing to provide you with the appropriate workers’ compensation information or claim forms
- Purposefully delaying or failing to process in a timely manner your workers’ compensation claim
- Terminating your employment in response to your filing for workers’ compensation benefits
- Reducing your regular work hours after filing a claim
- Reducing your pay rate or demoting you without reasonable cause after you file a claim
- Making unreasonable or unnecessary changes to your job duties
Employers may not be happy about processing a workers’ compensation claim because it may cause their insurance premiums to rise. However, this does not give an employer the right to take adverse action against you for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim in good faith.
Know Your Rights
Work-related injuries can quickly turn into complex legal matters. Depending on the nature of your injury, you may simply need to file for workers’ compensation to recoup your losses, but other scenarios may necessitate a lawsuit against your employer. In some cases, you may need to file a product liability claim against a negligent product manufacturer, or a third-party claim against someone outside your company who injured you while you were performing job-related duties (such as a motorist hitting you with his or her car while you were making a delivery or working near a road).
One of the best assets you can have following a work-related injury is reliable legal representation. If you have been injured on the job in Florida, get in touch with the attorneys at SteinLaw. Our top priority in every case is to maximize our client’s recovery, so we will explore every possible avenue for compensation on your behalf—no matter how complex your case may be.