Worker’s Compensation and Negligence Claims
An employee performing his assigned job duties can be injured by a third party who has little or no link to the employee’s business. These injury cases have special legal concerns.
In most cases, employees injured by independent third parties can file workers’ compensation claims through their employers’ insurance companies AND separate third-party negligence claims against those who inflicted the injuries.
If the employee receives an award from the third-party claim, most state laws require him to reimburse the workers’ comp benefits. The employee keeps the remaining amount, such as awards for pain and suffering or punitive damages that are not covered by worker’s comp.
Example: Outside Salesman Hit by Drunk Driver
An outside salesman on his sales route is struck by a drunk driver and seriously injured. The salesman is entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits and pursue a personal injury claim against the drunk driver and his insurance company.
The salesman’s workers’ comp insurance covers only medical benefits and partial wage reimbursement. The third-party personal injury award includes medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, full lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. After reimbursing workers’ comp the amount the salesman received for medical expenses and a percentage of their wages, the salesman keeps the remaining amount.
In most cases the injured party, (in this example the salesman) seeks treatment if needed immediately without regard to the issue of worker’s compensation or third party coverage. In this scenario where he is treated may have an effect on the outcome of the case. The treatment received and philosophy in a worker’s compensation setting has a different goal than the treatment received in an office that is not providing worker’s compensation benefits or treatment to the particular injured party. The goal of a worker’s compensation treatment provider is to get the worker “back to work” as soon as possible. The goal of a medical provider without the worker’s compensation overlay is to treat the patient without regard to outside interests that may and usually do influence those providers paid by the worker’s compensation carrier or employer.
Very often the philosophy of a worker’s compensation care provider is in this writer’s opinion a violation of the Hippocratic oath summarized here as “a promise made by people when they become doctors to do everything possible to help their patients and to have high moral standards in their work.” In this writer’s experience, the primary goal of a worker’s compensation medical provider is to provide the fewest benefits medically necessary and more or less “shoo’ the injured worker back to his job.
Navigating the competing interests of a worker’s compensation and third party personal injury claim is a bit more complex than a garden-variety automobile accident without any worker’s compensation overlay. In Florida, a worker injured by a third party may contemporaneously file a third party action against the at-fault party as well as a worker’s compensation claim against the employer and/or worker’s compensation insurance carrier. It is important to note that in Florida the remedies are cumulative meaning an injured party does not have to choose one remedy over another.
It is always prudent to seek legal and medical advice (not necessarily in that order) as soon as practicable after an incident; in a hybrid claim where there may be worker’s compensation involved it even more critical than usual. There are time-frames that significantly shorten reporting deadlines, etc. To learn about and protect your rights you need to contact an experienced attorney now. The DRG Firm has over 40 years of combined experience winning verdicts and settlements for our clients. We are available 365 days a year 24 hours a day, call us at 305-764-9907. You can also fill out the contact form on our website
Florida personal injury, attorneys are here to help. Do not hesitate to contact us today to protect your rights. No Fees Until We Win For You.
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By Marc Epstein, Esq.