Last Update: 01/13/16
In Florida, we have laws that protect anyone who is hurt while working and injured on the job. For example, the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act protects people who are injured in all sorts of on-the-job accidents — including those workers who are hurt while driving a vehicle as part of their duties. This system is overseen by the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Workers in Driving Accidents While on the Job in Florida
Workers hurt in traffic accidents while on the job can be people like delivery truck drivers, cab drivers, big rig truckers, etc. However, car crashes can be covered under Florida’s worker compensation laws when employers are behind the wheel for all sorts of work-related reasons. The worker/employee’s job doesn’t have to relate to driving in order for the worker compensation laws to apply.
The key here is that the driver must be able to show that he or she was “on the job” at the time of the crash.
Here are a few examples:
- Running an errand for your boss
- Driving to deliver something to a client
- Driving clients on job-related travel (e.g., real estate agent showing properties, or taking client to business meeting)
- Traveling for work
- Driving for job-related reason, like purchasing office supplies.
Florida’s Worker Compensation vs. Your Florida Insurance Policy
When it is determined that the traffic accident happened while the driver was working, then Florida’s workers’ compensation law takes over; the Workers’ Compensation policy (the one provided by the driver’s employer) is where damages, for things like medical bills and lost wages, will be paid.
In industry lingo, the Florida Workers Compensation coverage is “primary” over the driver’s insurance policy.
Additionally, there is no issue of fault here, unlike other car crash damage claims in Florida. If a driver is hurt in a traffic accident while on the job, these benefits are paid without anyone going into arguments about who is to blame for the crash.
What is covered by Florida’s Workers Compensation?
Since this is a law passed by the Florida Legislature (and one that has been changed by the Powers that Be in Tallahassee many, many times), what coverage is provided to the driver in damages is defined in the Florida Statutes and the workers’ compensation system. For example:
- No pain and suffering damages are covered
- Not all lost wages are paid
- No PIP claim is paid
- Medical expenses may or may not be paid – it depends upon whether they are allowed as covered damages
Can You Still Seek Compensation For Your Damages? Can You Still File a Lawsuit?
Having coverage under Florida’s workers’ compensation system does not bar an injury victim from seeking damages from those who are to blame for the accident.
If a driver is seriously injured in a car crash while on the job, it is perfectly acceptable for them to file a Workers Compensation claim and to file a lawsuit for personal injury damages against those responsible for the crash. Often, this is a wise decision because the ultimate money award will include more damages (like pain and suffering, for example) than the workers’ compensation claim will provide in benefits.
Two things here:
1. When you win your damage award against the negligent party who caused the accident and your injuries, then you will have to refund those workers’ compensation benefits out of that total money damage sum.
2. If you don’t sue the person who caused the crash, then your workers’ compensation insurance company may do it on your behalf anyway, in order to get reimbursed for what has been paid in benefits. This is called their right to “subrogation” or reimbursement and it’s allowed under Florida law.
What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in a Florida car accident while you are on the job, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.