Whether in the construction industry or restaurant business, a company may negligently evade Florida laws by failing to provide Workers’ Compensation coverage for its’ injured workers. A common “negligent” situation arises in the contractor and subcontractor arrangement. Imagine a large residential homebuilder entering into a contract with a roofing company to provide domed roofs for a large housing project. The contractor has properly arranged for workers compensation coverage for their employees.
The Statutory Employer
The subcontractor, although mandated by law, has failed to provide any medical or lost wage coverage for their employees. Fear not injured workers of the subcontractor; Florida Workers’ Compensation law has a protective mechanism in place to ensure that you are provided with medical and lost wage benefits. The contractor, who entered into a contract with the subcontractor, would become what is called “the statutory employer”, if certain elements are met. So long as there is a “primary obligation” to provide services for a third-party within the contractor-subcontractor contract, the Contractor becomes responsible to provide benefits to the subcontractor’s employees. Pursuant to Florida Workman’s Compensation law, the statutory employer would bear the primary obligation of providing medical and lost wage benefits in the place of the subcontractor.
A recent case was decided by the district court of appeals. This case stood for the proposition that the contractor does not have an obligation to provide Workman’s Compensation benefits in certain instances. In this case, there was a contractor who contracted with a subcontractor to provide homes for a large residential project. The court held that in the contract between both companies, there wasn’t a primary obligation to a third-party, in that the contract was between the contractor and subcontractor and no obligation was promised to the homeowner. The homeowner was simply provided a home, and there was not a specific duty beyond the construction of the home. This situation would change if the subcontractor contracted with the homeowner to provide special roofing, etc.
Workers Compensation Coverage
It is very important that any and all employees check with their human resources to ensure that their employer has Workers’ Compensation coverage. If there is a contractor, subcontractor arrangement, it is essential to discuss Workers’ Compensation benefits with both companies. Contacting an attorney once you are injured is likewise just as important as educating oneself about a company. An injured worker must ensure that his/ her rights are preserved, and an attorney will advocate on your behalf to provide you with these benefits.