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Workplace Injuries – When Can You Sue Outside Of Workers Compensation?

As a general rule, when an employee is injured in the workplace the only compensation that they can receive is from the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. There are exceptions to that rule, however, including:

  • Defective Product: When a work-related injury is caused by a defective product[1], the victim may be able to bring a products liability action against the manufacturer of the product.  For example, when a worker is injured by a machine or piece of equipment that is defective, failed to work properly, or is inherently dangerous, the manufacturer of the machine or equipment can be held responsible for the injury if it knew of the danger and/or didn’t properly warn the business or employees of the danger. In such a situation, the manufacturer would have to compensate the worker for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Toxic Substance: Sometimes the chemicals and other substances that workers use are toxic and cause severe injuries and illnesses. These  substances can include such things as asbestos, benzene, chromium compounds, silica, and radium, but any substance that harms you could possibly be the subject of a lawsuit for a “toxic tort.” Generally speaking, there are two kinds of toxic injuries: acute injuries are apparent immediately while latent injuries may take years to appear. Examples of acute injuries include chemical burns and poisonings. Examples of latent injuries include cancers and lung diseases. Because of the time delay, latent injuries tend to be more difficult to prove than acute ones, but these cases are not impossible. Workers have been successful in lawsuits brought years after their exposure to the toxic substance. For example, workers who suffer from asbestosis or mesothelioma almost always succeed in lawsuits because the causation between exposure to asbestos and asbestosis and mesothelioma has been proven in many lawsuits. When a worker is injured by a toxic substance, the worker can usually sue the manufacturer of the toxic substance and any manufacturers of safety equipment that proved to be ineffective in the handling of the toxic substance.
  • Third Party: Where a third party caused the injury, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against that person. f your injury was caused not by your employer or a fellow employee, but by a third party like a contractor, subcontractor, or on-site engineer, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. Third-party claims also apply when someone is injured by a third party while driving a company car.  In a personal injury case, an injured worker is entitled to recover all of his or her medical bills and lost wages. In addition, the worker can be compensated for pain and suffering.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit Against an Employer

There are some limited circumstances which allow a St. Petersburg resident to file a lawsuit against their employer in civil court. You are entitled to file a lawsuit if:

  • Your employer intentionally hurt you. To be able to sue your employer for intentional harm, your employer must have taken some action with the specific and direct intent of harming you. For example, an intentional harm could be your boss punching you in the face.  This means intentional acts  only, not your employer’s negligence at failing to protect your health and carelessness, even in the most extreme forms, is still insufficient to amount to an intentional harm in this case.
  • Your employer has insufficient workers’ compensation insurance or no workers’ compensation[2]. An employer’s failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance subjects him to substantial fines and penalties and gives an injured employee the right to sue.  A lawsuit allows  an employee to claim a wider range of damages, including total lost wages, and pain and suffering at a time when workers’ compensation does not pay for pain and suffering. Punitive damages may also be awarded in extreme cases of an employer’s reckless disregard for safety or gross negligence.

St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys

As with any legal dispute, it is important to consult an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney to determine what, if any, lawsuits are appropriate in your specific case outside of a workers’ compensation claim.  The attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are skilled personal injury attorneys and they are ready to review and evaluate your case and to zealously represent you under Florida law.  Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today at 727-222-6922 to schedule your free legal case evaluation and consultation.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922



[1] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.81.html
[2] http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/Chapter440