Because of the high likelihood of sustaining injuries at construction sites, most workers know from personal experience that they must file workers’ compensation claims to obtain compensation for on-the-job injuries. The Florida laws are specifically designed to help workers obtain the treatment and benefits they need without considering liability on the part of employers, co-workers or even the injured workers. Lesser known is the fact that injured workers can file personal injury claims against their employers under certain circumstances.
While injured construction workers can file personal injury claims against third parties that caused their injuries, such as manufacturers of defective equipment, Florida law is strict about suing employers through a workplace injury claim. However, Chapter 440, Section 11 of the Florida statutes provides certain exceptions:
Employers can be held liable when they fail to secure the legally required compensation for an employee’s injury, and they cannot claim co-worker negligence, assumed risk or even comparative negligence as valid defenses against injured workers.
Employers that deliberately injure a worker can be held liable in a personal injury suit.
Employers that engage in conduct they know is virtually certain to cause employee injury can be held liable as long as the injured worker had no knowledge of the dangers and the employer concealed or misrepresented the risks.
The burden of proof falls to the injured worker in these cases, and the law requires “clear and convincing proof” of the exceptions, even though this is a higher standard than is typical of most Florida personal injury claims.