Last Update: 1/23/22
Get key information about your worker’s compensation rights so you can maximize your benefits claim.
In Florida, Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act protects employees 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.
The purpose of the law is to allow employees to quickly recover benefits without the need to prove their employer, or any third party, was negligent. This is true as long as the injury occurred in the course of the worker’s employment.
Workers in Driving Accidents While on the Job in Florida
Most of us think of a delivery truck driver, cab driver, or a big rig trucker, as the type of worker hurt in an on-the-job car accident. However, car accidents covered under Florida’s worker compensation laws are for all sorts of work-related reasons. In fact, 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 a client to a business meeting)
- Traveling for work
- Driving for a 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 terms, the Florida Workers Compensation coverage is “primary” over the driver’s insurance policy.
As mentioned above, 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, the benefits provided to the employee is defined in the Statute and the workers’ compensation system. However, there are some important facts to know, including:
- 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
The key here is a determination of the worker’s pay. Under Florida Workers’ Compensation Law, the amount of benefits payable is calculated based on an employee’s average weekly wage. The law provides that, except as otherwise provided in the Law, the AWW of the employee on the date of the accident must be taken as the basis upon which to compute compensation, subject to limitations on the amount of compensation.
From the statute:
440.14 Determination of pay.—
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the average weekly wages of the injured employee on the date of the accident shall be taken as the basis upon which to compute compensation and shall be determined, subject to the limitations of s. 440.12(2), as follows:
Can You Still Seek Compensation From The At-Fault Driver 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.