Why You Can’t Sue Your Employer for a Workplace Injury
Years ago, throughout the United States, an injured employee’s sole recourse was to sue the employer in tort in much the same way a car accident victim sues an at-fault driver. The problem was, however, that an injured worker could only recover if the employer was at fault. Even then, the employer would often argue that the employee assumed the risk of injury by taking the job. As a result, it was often difficult for injured employees to get the compensation they needed.
Workers’ compensation, which exists in some form in most jurisdictions in the United States, is a compromise that allows you to receive money for medical care and lost wages if you are injured on the job, even when the employer was not at fault for the injury, as long as certain conditions exist:
- You must be an employee.
- Your injury must arise from the work you perform and must be sustained in the course and scope of your employment.
- You must report the injury to your employer within 30 days of becoming aware of it.
The downside to the workers’ compensation system in Florida and in most other states is that employees lose the right to sue their employers for injuries — although they can potentially still sue third parties, such as equipment manufacturers. Moreover, workers’ compensation benefits are often significantly less than the recovery that could be expected from a civil lawsuit for the same injury. This is because workers’ comp benefits do not take into account the noneconomic losses of pain, suffering, mental anguish and loss of life’s pleasures. Nevertheless, workers’ compensation benefits are worth pursuing, and you should promptly contact a Florida attorney if your claim has been denied.