This article discusses the rights of injured workers to file separate lawsuits against negligent drivers in work-related motor vehicle crashes in Florida. A significant percentage of motor vehicle crashes are work-related. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), work-relatedness of motor vehicle accidents is defined under Section 1904.5 of OSHA’s recordkeeping rule. Section 1904.5(a) states, “[the employer] must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment….”
Under this language, a case is presumed work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment is a discernible cause of the injury or illness or of a significant aggravation to a pre-existing condition. Section 1904.5(b)(6) states injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is on travel status are work-related if, at the time of the injury or illness, the employee was engaged in work activities “in the interest of the employer.” Examples of such activities include travel to and from customer meetings, delivering packages, conducting job tasks, and entertaining or being entertained to transact, discuss, or promote business.
Separate Lawsuits Against Careless Drivers
Automobile and truck crashes that are work-related are indeed covered by Florida workers’ compensation laws; however, victims of such crashes may be able to file separate personal injury claims against negligent drivers. These benefits, depending on the factors, of the case will be in addition, or supplement any workers’ compensation benefits, workers injured in accidents may receive.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Claims and Exceptions
Under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, if a worker is injured in a work-related motor vehicle crash, the worker’s benefits are limited to:
- Medical and nursing expenses.
- Wage replacement.
- Partial or total disability benefits.
- Other workers’ compensation benefits depending on the claim.
Many injured workers inquire whether they may obtain damages for pain and suffering and other similar benefits from the workers’ compensation insurer. The answer is no.
Workers may, however, obtain such benefits from negligent drivers involved in automobile and truck crashes. For example, if a drunk driver crashes into a police officer in his or her cruiser, causing the officer to sustain injuries, the officer will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and may directly sue the drunk driver who caused the crash and the officer’s injuries.
Compensation for Harms and Losses After a Work-Related Motor Vehicle Accident
At the same time a worker files for a workers’ compensation benefits, the worker should also speak with a personal injury attorney to initiate the motor vehicle accident claim. Personal injury attorneys should quickly gather evidence, interview witnesses, obtain medical and employment records, and notify the other driver’s insurance company, and file an accident insurance claim. If the adverse automobile insurer declines to pay fair compensation, which they oftentimes do, diligent personal injury attorneys will file in court for damages without delay. Attorneys, depending on the facts, will seek damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium if applicable, and other damages.
For more information about rights of injured workers to file separate lawsuits against negligent drivers in work-related motor vehicle crashes in Florida, call attorney Tim Nies of Van Riper and Nies Attorneys, P.A. Tim is an Army Ranger Veteran and former Lead Insurance Company Casualty Attorney for arguably the largest insurance defense law firm in Florida. Tim, is an experienced legal warrior who fights for his clients. He knows personal injury law, auto accident law and the auto insurance companies’ playbooks and uses this information to maximize settlements and verdicts for his clients. Van Riper and Nies Attorneys, P.A. has offices in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Stuart and Deerfield Beach, Florida.