Can You Still File a Lawsuit About a Dangerous Work Environment After Workers’ Compensation Pays Your Claim?
The good news about filing a workers’ compensation claim is that you usually start receiving treatment quickly. The bad news is almost everything else, at least from the perspective of the injured worker. Your employer gets to choose your doctors, and workers’ compensation doctors are known for prioritizing the cheapest treatments over the most effective ones. Even worse, when you accept a workers’ compensation settlement, you are signing away a lot of rights to file lawsuits related to your injury in the future. Most workers don’t read all the fine print or go over it with a lawyer; they just sign quickly because they are scared of losing their jobs and want to get their injuries treated so they can get back to the job with which they support their families. No matter what your employer says to pressure you into signing agreements favorable to them, it is always worthwhile to discuss matters with a South Florida workers’ compensation lawyer and discussing options such as third-party lawsuits and negotiating with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance for a better settlement.
Alice and the Air Show
Alice was employed as a security guard by a staffing firm that provided security for special events. In 2011, she was assigned to work at an air show that would take place over several days. Air shows are inherently dangerous events, with pilots performing dangerous stunts and flying near crowded areas. Air shows in Florida are even more dangerous; any outdoor event in Florida leaves attendees vulnerable to getting stranded in one of Florida’s violent storms that strike without warning. On the first day of the air show, Alice and several co-workers were in a temporary structure that court documents describe as a “guard shack.” When a severe thunderstorm blew through the area, a tornado picked up the structure and deposited it in a ditch, and Alice sustained injuries.
Alice filed a workers’ compensation claim with her employer, and the employer settled the claim. She also sued Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In, the company that hosted the air show, for negligence. Sun ‘n Fun filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Alice had waived the right to file a lawsuit for negligence after her employer had already paid her workers’ compensation claim. The appeals court, however, ruled that Sun ‘n Fun was not Alice’s employer, and that since her real employer had already paid her claim, the question of whether it was her statutory employer was moot. Therefore, it remanded the case to the trial court so that she could continue to pursue her case against Sun ‘n Fun. No news reports have been published about the case since the 2015 ruling by the appeals court, so the amount for which the case eventually settled is not known.
Contact Us Today for Help
A Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyer knows the difference between “you can’t sue your employer” and “you can’t sue anyone,” no matter how your employer might try to convince you otherwise. Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld for more information.