The answer is yes, with some qualifiers. Workers compensation is a no-fault law which essentially means that when we are injured at work your employers workers compensation insurance carrier will provide medical and indemnity benefits, regardless of who was at fault for your accident, yourself, your supervisor, your co-worker, etc…
However, in limited circumstances you may be able to bring a third party, personal injury claim, in addition to your workers compensation claim. The most common scenario where one will also have a personal injury claim is when an individual is driving as part of her employment and is involved in a motor vehicle accident due to the fault of another driver. In this instance you not only have a claim in workers compensation but also a tort action against the at fault driver. One major benefit to this is that you now have multiple options for medical treatment. When you file a workers compensation claim the insurance carrier will dictate where you receive medical treatment. However, in a personal injury suit you and/or your attorney will be able to pick the doctors. One major difference is that when you treat under workers compensation, the insurance carrier will pay for your medical treatment versus treating through a personal injury suit where you will most likely have to pay most of the medical bills out of your settlement or award. There are advantages to either. Some may not want to treat with workers compensation doctors due to the fact that they are picked by and paid for by the insurance carrier which could create distrust. Some on the other hand may want to go with the “free” treatment due to the at fault driver’s low policy limits, for example. You also see this at times in the medical field, specifically with home health aides or Certified Nursing Assistant’s have to travel to patients houses for treatment. In this scenario, if you are injured while at a patient’s house, you may have a claim against the homeowner’s insurance in addition to a workers compensation claim.
Here in sunshine state where we are constantly building, you see a decent number of claims in workers compensation from the construction field. A lot of times, there will be multiple contractors and companies working simultaneously on a project. What happens if you are injured due to the negligence of a worker from one of the other companies on your jobsite? In this type of scenario, the waters get a little muddier. Generally, the rules of vertical and horizontal immunity would apply. Florida Statute § 440.10(e) states that a subcontractor providing services in conjunction with a contractor on the same project or contract work is not liable for the payment of compensation to the employees of another subcontractor or the contractor on such contract work and is protected by the exclusiveness of liability. This really means that the subcontractors from the other company are immune from tort action (horizontal) as well as the general contractor (vertical). This gets tricky in the sense of what does the term “in conjunction with” mean? Meaning could the other companies work being done on the same project be determined to have been “not in conjunction” with the work you are doing? Even though the other company is working on the same project, could their work and goals be determined by the court to be so far and apart from your own that immunity would not apply? Then would you have a third party claim as well? These are hard questions to answer and exactly why you need to discuss your scenario with a seasoned attorney.
Throughout Mr. Masnikoff’s twenty-year career, he has seen thousands of scenarios where a claimant may also have a third party claim, in spite of being told that none existed and immunity would apply. Mr. Masnikoff takes the time to make sure you fully understand the law and will fiercely advocate to ensure that you are able to explore any and all opportunities that are open to you under the legal system. Mr. Masnikoff has a vast network of personal injury attorneys throughout the state of Florida that are trusted and ready to explore every avenue to ensure that you are are fairly compensated for your injuries and able to return to your quality of life. If you or a loved one have been injured and have questions about whether or not a personal injury suit may also exist, 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. Please give us a call at (877) 817-4127.
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