When Can I Sue My Employer For Job Injuries?

December 10, 2015 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
When Can I Sue My Employer For Job Injuries? Suing your employer for injuries sustained on the job requires overcoming what is known as worker's compensation immunity.  Workers compensation immunity is granted to employers when certain conditions are met.  Conditions an employer must satisfy include properly securing workers' compensation coverage for their employees and the employer must not have engaged in any intentional act designed to injure any employee, or engaged in any act that is substantially certain to result in injury or death to the employee.    Employer immunity prevents an employee from maintaining a civil suit against their employer for injuries and related damages resulting from a workplace accident.  More often than not, what is filed on our client's behalf is a Petition for Benefits against the worker's compensation insurance company (carrier).  A Petition for Benefits is the equivalent to a civil suit for the sake of worker's compensation benefits. As explained, employer immunity is not absolute.  Workers' compensation law does not protect an employer from liability for an intentional tort against an employee.   An “intentional tort,” can be explained as an employer deliberately intending to injure an employee.  We are familiar with the cases favorable to employees in regard to employer liability.  Each case is different and must evaluated on the facts involved.  Consultations in person or over the phone are free.  We're available after hours to address your concerns as well. Like many states in this nation, the State of Florida has enacted a comprehensive set of workers' compensation laws.  The intended purpose of these laws is to, “assure the quick and efficient delivery of lost wage and medical benefits to an injured worker.”  In reality, the aforementioned stated purpose and the actual provision of benefits to injured workers is anything but quick and efficient. If Florida's worker's compensation benefits were truly provided in such a quick and efficient manner, Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA wouldn't have an interest in benefitting people injured on the job.  We wouldn't have to ensure an injured worker isn't being taken advantage of. It is important to understand that from the very moment you are injured on the job, your interests and the interests of the workers compensation insurance carrier are contrary to one another.  Your goals are opposite.  The carrier's goal is to pay as little as possible and end your benefits as quickly as possible.  Your goal is to receive all the benefits you're entitled to, and ensuring that the carrier pay the full, correct, amount of such benefits. In considering the issue of whether your claim is one in which you are entitled to workers benefits, or whether you have the option of considering suiting your employer civilly (in tort), it is worth understanding that the immunity provision arises under Workers' Compensation Law (the Act). Unless facts show a deliberate intent to injure or satisfy a virtual certainty test, workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy available to an injured employee.  “Exclusive remedy,” means that regardless of any employer negligence that contributed or otherwise caused the accident and injury(ies), the employee is entitled to workers compensation benefits.  However, they cannot sue their employer through a civil suit.  As mentioned, there are exceptions to an employer's immunity from civil suit.  Such exceptions are few and narrowly construed.  For example, consider the Florida Supreme Court case of Turner v. PCR, INC., 754 So.2d 683 (Fla., 2000).  In summary, PCR, Inc., knowingly instructed employees to work with chemicals that were highly volatile and had a history of exploding.  An explosion did occur, employees were injured and one died.  A civil suit was filed against PCR, Inc.  The Florida Supreme Court determined that the facts were sufficient to overcome a motion for summary judgment filed by PCR, Inc., but not enough to overcome workers compensation immunity.[1] Though the Legislature had the initial intent of benefitting injured employees, there is virtually nothing quick and efficient about the worker's compensation process.  The laws surrounding worker's compensation benefits are complex, often change as a result of a newly released opinion, and are not a body of information easily understood; even for an individual with exceptional research skills.  If you have any questions regarding worker's compensation matters, consultations are free.  You can contact us at 727-451-6900 or via our online contact form. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900 References: [1] On November 22, 1991, an explosion at the PCR chemical plant in Alachua County killed Paul Turner and seriously injured James Creighton, both PCR technicians. At the time, PCR was under contract with DuPont to research and develop replacements for the coolant; Freon 113. A compound designated as F-pentene-2 was among the replacement compounds PCR was developing and was the compound involved in the explosion. F-pentene-2 is produced by combining tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) with hexafluoropropene (HFP), in the presence of aluminum chloride (a "promoter"), and heat from the resulting pressure. TFE's explosive force is equal to two-thirds that of TNT, and the risk of an explosion by using TFE in the production of F-pentene-2 is very high. Experts, Dr. John Landrum and Mr. Jack Brand, opined that TFE is "highly reactive," "prone to spontaneous and violent decomposition when heated or compressed," and must be handled with extreme care, involving special equipment and precautions. In fact, ICI, the company that manufactures TFE, notified PCR in April 1991, that it was planning to discontinue supplying TFE throughout the United States because of its hazardous character. PCR allegedly did not provide this information to its employees, including Turner and Creighton.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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