Yes. Subcontractors are, by statute, considered to be the employee of the general contractor. This means that the general contractor provides the workers compensation coverage for the subcontractors on a job site. A subcontractor can of course provide its own coverage as well.
Here in the sunshine state, especially in the Orlando area for those of us that have had to maneuver I-4 traffic recently, construction seems to be a never-ending event, constantly going on around us. This is great for the economy, jobs, commerce, etc… A lot of times, especially on bigger jobsites, there could be multiple different companies performing various tasks at the same time. Each with a general contractor, independent contractors, and various subcontractors doing anything from demolition to painting, simultaneously. What happens when someone is injured at one of these jobsites? Well, if you are a subcontractor and have your own insurance, you are covered, or if you do not have your own insurance and the general contactor has insurance, you are covered.
One issue that arises is the difficult determination of whether or not an independent contractor, someone who typically is not covered, is functioning as a subcontractor? The 2017 Edition of Dubreuil’s Florida Workers Compensation Handbook instructs us that the language of the statute and court’s prior decisions gives guidance on this issue. Florida statute § 440.10(1)(b) provides in pertinent part that if a contractor sublets any part or parts of his or her contract work to a subcontractor, all of the employees of contractor and subcontractors engaged on such contract work shall be deemed to be employed and in the same business or establishment. This really protects all employees engaged in the same contract work, regardless of whether or not they are employees of the contractor or subcontractor.
What happens if a subcontractor is injured by a subcontractor from another company? Is this a third party, tort claim, or is this workers compensation? These instances happen often, especially when, as referenced above, you have multiple companies performing tasks simultaneously at the same jobsite. This is where the law gets a little more complex. First, immunity from a tort suit would depend on whether the employer fulfilled its duty to secure compensation. If so, employees of the subcontractor cannot sue the general contractor. This is true even if the immediate (actual) employer secured compensation for its employees. John J. Dubreuil, Florida Workers’ Compensation Handbook. In the workers compensation world, this is typically referred to vertical immunity, i.e. going up. According to Dubreuil, this immunity however previously did not apply between subcontractors because they had no duty to secure compensation for each other. This could potentially make fellow subcontractors liable for tort actions due to injuries from their negligence.
However, in 1994 the law was amended. In todays climate, fellow subcontractors also enjoy immunity, horizontal immunity. This typically applies if the two subcontractors are engaged in activities with a common goal, i.e. one painter and one drywall worker. They are doing separate tasks but with the common goal of building the house. This essentially means that one of most important factors will be the type of work the other subcontractor was performing.
Lyle Masnikoff & Associates, P.A.
These issues can become very complex, especially when dealing with multiple parties who work for multiple entities. Throughout Mr. Masnikoff’s twenty-year career, he has seen multiple instances where employees are injured on a jobsite where there are numerous parties working and no one to instruct the worker on what needs to be done. Mr. Masnikoff takes the time to make sure you fully understand the law and will fiercely advocate to ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to. If you or a loved one were a subcontractor and injured on a jobsite, we would love to discuss your case and explain all of your options to make sure that you receive the benefits that you are entitled to. It is our goal to serve those who serve all of us without question. If you or someone you know is in this situation, please give us a call at (877) 817-4127.
Lyle Masnikoff & Associates, P.A.
1645 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd #550
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
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