There was a total of 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries in private industry in 2016. Unintentional falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury-related hospital admissions in Florida. Often, when people are injured, they do not know where to turn.
I was Injured at Work. Doesn’t That Mean I Should File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In two words: it depends. Most of the time, an incident at work will fall under workers’ compensation. Not all accidents at work belong to this area of law, however. The following are situations where someone may file a personal injury claim as opposed to a workers’ compensation claim:
- When the employer’s conduct was intentional, or obviously likely to cause injury or death
- When an injury involves a defective product
- When an injury came from a toxic substance
- When an employer does not have workers’ comp insurance
- When the injury was a result of a third-party, and that person does not work for the company
Many of these terms seem ambiguous. When there is a dispute over what ‘intentional conduct’ or ‘toxic substance’ means, a judge will have to decide. There may be some personal injury claims beyond the scope of this list.
In personal injury claims, one party has to prove negligence. This means that the person bringing the suit needs to prove that someone else was negligent, and that this inattention caused the injury. Someone may be liable to pay if the court deems that they were at fault.
In workers’ compensation cases, you do not need to prove fault. Workplace accidents can occur where no one person is responsible. None of your coworkers, nor your boss, necessarily need to have done something wrong for you to be hurt. Even if someone was negligent, you do not need to prove that to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
In legal terms, ‘damages’ generally refers to how much money you can receive for an injury. Personal injury law can compensate you for emotional damages, lost earning capacity, and medical bills. A successful personal injury suit means that you will receive compensation for a few more pains that you have suffered.
Workers’ compensation law, on the other hand, does not allow you to claim compensation for pain and suffering. You can only receive weekly compensation as a form of wage replacement. The exact amount that you get depends on several factors, such as how injured you are and the statewide average weekly wage.
Two Separate Processes
In both cases, it is a good idea to report the incident right after it happens. Part of this involves seeking medical attention. After this step, however, how your case continues diverges.
If you have a workers’ compensation case, you need to submit your claim to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation. You must file this within 2 years of your injury or illness.
When you wish to pursue a personal injury claim, you will have to check if your employer has insurance. You may also need to file something at a local courthouse.
No matter which course you choose, it is useful to hire a lawyer. They can take you through the process, and show you how to get the maximum amount of compensation for your claim.
The Berman Law Group can help you out. We have a team of elite workers compensation attorneys and personal injury attorneys. Our team is qualified, quick, and qualitatively the best in South Florida. Call us today at 1-800-375-5555.