As a Florida personal injury lawyer who sues employers, the Florida legislature has made it extremely difficult bring a lawsuit when injured on the job. Essentially, as long as the employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, an employee injured on the job cannot bring a lawsuit claiming employer negligence. Simply put, in order to successfully bring a claim against an employer, the conduct must rise to the level of an intentional tort.
In just about every case litigated in Florida against an injured person’s employer, the lawyer for the employer raises the affirmative defense of workers’ compensation immunity — relying upon the above mentioned Florida statute. Additionally, in nearly every case for a personal injury lawyer in Florida, the burden rests on the injured person to produce evidence to prove his or her case. As intimidating as the statute quoted above is to read and comprehend, even more overwhelming is the fact that the injured person must provide sufficient evidence in order to satisfy that statute.
Getting injured on the job, incurring a significant amount of hospital bills, missing work, and completely altering your lifestyle because of injury is hard enough. Yet, the Florida legislature continues to make it increasingly difficult to recover a damage award against your employer. Perhaps the reasoning behind the enactment of this statute is to prevent the injured person from recovering both workers’ compensation benefits from the employer’s insurance carrier, and a personal injury damage award from the employer itself.
Every injured person has the right for his or her day in court. However, this statute prevents Florida personal injury lawyers from pursuing a negligence claim against an employer on behalf of an injured employee. Several cases have been heard by Florida appeals courts and the Florida Supreme Court surrounding the issue of whether the injured employee has submitted enough evidence against his or her employer. The bottom line is that it all comes down to the evidence and testimony that is elicited by the lawyer of the injured employee.
Florida statute section 440.11 does not completely bar all claims against an injured employee’s employer, but it certainly does not make it easy. While Florida law makes it difficult, and employers always hide behind this workers’ compensation immunity statute, I urge all workers that are injured on the job to pursue a personal injury claim against your employer — albeit a difficult claim. Because when it comes down to it — what other choice do you have?
By: Brandon Stein