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Should I File a Worker’s Comp Claim or Tampa Personal Injury Claim?

When an accident occurs on the job, the worker’s compensation system is there to protect you. However, accidents aren’t always the employer’s fault. Sometimes, a third party can be responsible for causing the accident. How do you assert your legal rights? Our Tampa worker’s compensation attorneys explain worker’s comp vs. personal injury claims.

Can I Make a Claim for Personal Injury at a Tampa Workplace?

Yes, you can make a claim for personal injury at a Tampa workplace. You have rights under Florida worker’s compensation laws when you’re hurt on the job in Tampa. Those rights are in addition to legal rights that you have to bring a claim for compensation.
You may receive worker’s compensation benefits, and you may also take action against the person who causes the accident. There are some important ways the cases interact; however, you can make a claim for personal injury at a Tampa workplace.

Filing Worker's Compensation

Worker’s Compensation vs. Personal Injury Settlement

Worker’s compensation vs. personal injury settlement is an important issue that arises in many worker’s compensation claims. There may be multiple avenues to monetary recovery when you’re hurt at work. Of course, your employer is on the hook for paying worker’s compensation benefits. These benefits should include medical bills and lost income. 
However, you may also qualify to bring a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim may include pain and suffering. Different rules apply to what you can recover and how to pursue the case.

Third Parties Who May Cause Accidents at a Tampa Workplace

Here are some examples of individuals and other parties that may be responsible for an accident at the workplace:

  • Customers
  • Manufacturers of equipment that you work with 
  • Contractors that you work alongside
  • Delivery personnel
  • People who perform services on the property where you work
  • Other companies that also work in the same building or property
  • Those responsible for maintaining the property where you work

When you work, you interact with a lot of people. Anyone acting negligently could be someone you can bring a claim against when you get hurt at work. For anyone but your employer, the appropriate claim is a third-party negligence claim.

Worker’s Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claim Differences

There are some critical differences between worker’s compensation and personal injury cases. There are variances in how you pursue the case. The different rules also impact how compensation works and what you receive in compensation.

Different Standards to Prove the Case

The purpose of worker’s compensation benefits is to give you fast compensation and covered medical treatment when you’re hurt at work. For that reason, you don’t have to prove that your employer is at fault in order to receive benefits. All you have to show is that you’re hurt at work. Then, you have to make sure you claim all of the benefits that you’re entitled to collect.
However, for personal injury claims, it’s not as easy. You have to prove that the third party is liable for your injuries because of negligence. In other words, for a third-party case, the accident has to be their fault. It’s harder to win a third-party negligence case than it is to win worker’s compensation benefits. 
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can never win a negligence case. In Tampa and the entire State of Florida, people win personal injury claims every day. It just means that there are additional steps to be aware of as you evaluate your legal rights and options.

Florida Worker’s Compensation vs. Personal Injury Laws – Florida Law 440.39

Law BooksFlorida has laws that dictate how worker’s compensation and personal injury cases interact. Florida law 440.39 speaks to what happens when someone gets hurt as a result of third-party negligence. The law says that a person may bring a claim for worker’s compensation benefits along with the third-party claim for compensation. The same rules for types of benefits apply, and the same rules of court apply.
Florida law 440.39 says that the worker’s compensation insurer may claim a lien on compensation that the victim receives through the third-party case. In other words, if you bring both types of cases, some of what you get from the third-party case might go to pay the worker’s compensation back. The legal term is called having a right of subrogation against the proceeds of the third-party lawsuit.

Why Does the Insurance Company Have Subrogation Rights in Worker’s Compensation Cases?

In a personal injury case, the purpose of subrogation rights is to make sure that the recovery system is fair for everyone. Worker’s compensation pays your medical bills. However, when you bring a third-party claim, you can also claim compensation for medical bills. This would result in the victim receiving double compensation and a windfall. However, the insurer would be left paying for medical bills when they weren’t at fault for the accident. Of course, it’s only fair that the party who causes the accident pays for the medical bills.
The State of Florida uses a complex mathematical formula to determine how subrogation works in a worker’s compensation case. The amount of subrogation is reduced by attorney fees and the costs of pursuing the claim. In many cases, the best course of action is to pursue both types of claims. It’s essential to understand how the claims interact so that you know what to expect, and you can use the right legal strategy.

Tampa Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury Claim Attorneys

Our Tampa worker’s compensation attorneys can help you determine what to do after a work accident. Sometimes, it’s best to file both types of cases. Other times, there are reasons to pursue one type of claim over the other. However, the differences can be subtle.
Jack Bernstein and our team of Tampa personal injury attorneys have experience handling complex legal matters. When there is a third party to blame for your work injury, we can investigate and do what it takes to make sure you receive fair compensation. In any worker’s compensation case, it’s important to work quickly. Call us today for an immediate consultation about your case.

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

For more than 37 years, personal injury lawyer Jack G. Bernstein has protected the rights of individuals who have been injured in a variety of circumstances. Mr. Bernstein is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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