If you or a loved one are injured while working on a construction site, you are entitled to financial recovery. First, you should seek emergency medical care, making sure to keep any documentation you received from the providers. Then, you should report the injury to your employer within 30 days of the accident.
Florida law requires all construction employers to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. The law contemplates this insurance to pay for medical treatment and a living wage until you can work.
Florida’s Division of Workers’ Compensation paid an average of $21,763 for claims from the construction industry in 2017. Florida intended for the workers’ compensation system to simplify the claims process.
But in reality, the law restricts the circumstances under which an employee can sue an employer to recover for injuries on the job. The average construction accident settlement depends on the circumstances of your injury and who is liable for the accident.
Fortunately, Grossman Attorneys at Law understands Florida’s laws on workers’ compensation and construction site accidents. We are experienced in helping injured people recover, and we can help you understand your legal options after an accident.
What Can I Recover Under Workers’ Compensation?
To understand construction accident settlements, you should first have a basic understanding of Florida workers’ compensation claims. The law requires your employer to pay for necessary medical care after the accident.
If you can’t work for more than seven days, your benefits will cover a portion of your lost wages. In addition, if your loved one passes away after an accident, the law provides compensation for the surviving family.
Under the law, your employer must pay for medically necessary services after an accident through their workers’ compensation insurance. Except for emergency care, your doctor will send a prescription for your care to your employer for their approval. The prescription will describe the periods for care, the level of care, and the type of assistance you need.
Then, the employer pays the doctor directly for your care. If your employer does not respond to your request within a reasonable time, you can receive the care you need and file a petition for benefits with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims.
Disability (Indemnity) Claims
Sometimes you might not be able to return to your old job after an accident. In that case, your employer may make disability payments to replace a portion of your lost wages. If you’re out of work for more than seven days, your employer will pay a percentage of your regular wages.
Your employer can pay temporary disability benefits for up to 104 weeks. If an accident leaves you permanently unable to work, the employer may make ongoing impairment benefits or permanent total disability payments, depending on your level of impairment.
If your loved one dies within one year of a construction accident or five years of continuous disability, the employer must pay benefits under workers’ compensation. The maximum benefit is $150,000. The benefit covers funeral expenses up to $7,500 and compensation to dependents as defined by law.
What Is a Construction Accident Settlement?
A construction accident settlement means that you agree to receive a lump-sum, one-time payment in exchange for releasing the employer and insurer from liability for workers’ compensation benefits.
Once you accept a settlement, you cannot make any further workers’ compensation claims. You cannot make claims for future medical expenses, future payments of compensation and rehabilitation expenses, or any other benefits.
If you do not have attorney representation, a judge will ensure that the settlement agreement amount is more than what you would receive under workers’ compensation or is at least in your best interest. If you have attorney representation, a judge approves only the attorney fees and your employer must pay the settlement within 14 days.
When Can I File a Construction Accident Lawsuit?
Florida’s worker compensation law is meant to constrain injury claims within the workers’ compensation system. But workers’ compensation pays only necessary medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. A lawsuit is the only way to recover for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
The law allows you to sue your employer after a workplace injury only if they did not have workers’ compensation coverage or committed an intentional tort that caused the injury. An employer’s action constitutes an intentional tort and not an accident when you can prove by clear and convincing evidence that:
- The employer deliberately intended to injure the employee; or
- The employer engaged in conduct that the employer knew, based on prior similar accidents or explicit warnings specifically identifying a known danger, was virtually certain to result in injury or death to the employee, and the employee was not aware of the risk because the danger was not apparent and the employer deliberately concealed or misrepresented the danger so as to prevent the employee from exercising informed judgment about whether to perform the work.
Intentional actions that would allow for a suit typically include disregarding safety procedures, such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. If you feel that your employer’s or a co-worker’s action was “virtually certain” to result in injury, the law may entitle you to sue your employer.
In these situations, it is a good idea to have an attorney review your case to determine if there is “clear and convincing evidence” of this type of behavior and to help you begin collecting documentation.
Third-Party and Bystander Lawsuits
Sometimes a third party caused a construction accident, such as an unrelated contractor or someone who is not your employer or co-worker. Occasionally, a construction accident can injure a bystander.
In these cases, workers’ compensation laws won’t limit a lawsuit because you are not suing your employer. If your injury occurred at a construction site where you were not an employee, the law entitles you to compensation. Call us today to discuss your options for financial recovery.
Grossman Attorneys at Law: Your Construction Accident Attorneys
When you or a loved one are injured in a construction accident, we know that you are hurt and scared. Maybe you can’t work and aren’t sure how to pay the bills. Fortunately, we’ve dedicated our practice to personal injury and insurance law.
We are experienced negotiators and litigators, and we aren’t afraid to fight large insurance companies. You don’t have to accept the first offer you receive in a construction accident settlement. If you feel you deserve more, hire the personal injury lawyers at Grossman Attorneys at Law, and we will be there for you.