Can Volunteers Seek Workers’ Compensation Coverage After An Injury?
Injuries on the job can occur in so many different ways, from accidents resulting from negligence to injuries caused by careless or reckless behavior by a third party to harm resulting from product defects to injuries resulting from an intentional act designed to cause harm. No matter how you suffered your workplace injury—as long as you did not intentionally inflict the injury on yourself—you will likely be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits as an employee as long as you meet the other requirements concerning the timeline for reporting and filing a claim, and for seeking medical attention.
However, eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits can get much more complicated when a volunteer gets hurt at a “workplace.” While the volunteer may be spending a significant amount of time giving back to a private business or nonprofit corporation, and might even be volunteering on a full-time basis, it may not be possible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits if you are a volunteer. While you should always discuss the particular facts of your case with a Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyer, we want to provide you with more information about volunteer injuries and workers’ compensation claims in Florida.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Act Does Not Include Volunteers
In general, the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act does not identify volunteers as workers who can be eligible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits when they suffer injuries at the “workplace,” or the volunteering site. For many volunteers, this can be confusing since they may consider their volunteering time to be volunteer “work” for which they should be able to seek compensation if they get hurt while engaged in this volunteer work. Indeed, when an accident does occur while a volunteer is “on the job,” so to speak, the injured volunteer cannot ordinarily seek workers’ compensation benefits as a paid employee would be able to do.
In sum, generally speaking, volunteers are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Yet there are some exceptions that may be applicable to you. And even if one of the exceptions does not apply, you may still have options to seek financial compensation for losses resulting from your injuries while you were volunteering.
Exceptions: When Volunteers Can Be Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in Florida
If you got hurt while volunteering, you could be eligible to seek workers’ compensation benefits if you fall into one of the exceptions.
First, if you do volunteer work for a government entity, you can be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim if you get hurt while volunteering. This includes local government volunteer work at the county or city level, as well as volunteer work at the state or federal level. Second, if you are compensated for your volunteer work in any capacity, from receiving meals while you volunteer to free admission to the place of your volunteer work, you could be able to make the argument that you count as an employee for purposes of seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
Even if you are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you may be able to file a negligence claim against the business or nonprofit where you volunteer in order to seek compensation. Depending upon the type of injury, a business insurance policy may be able to provide you with compensation, or you could be eligible to file a lawsuit.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Anytime you have questions about your eligibility to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, an experienced South Florida workers’ compensation attorney at our firm can assist you. Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. to learn more.