How To Pursue Compensation After a Florida Construction AccidentTrusted Content
Legally reviewed by:Erik Abrahamson, J.D. November 17, 2016
Experienced and Knowledgeable Attorneys Helping Injured Construction Workers in Tampa
If you were injured or someone you love was killed while working on a construction site, it is critical that you stand up for your legal rights. You may be entitled to significant compensation, but if you do nothing (or make mistakes like failing to hire an experienced attorney), you will end up without the money you need to cover your medical bills, your family’s expenses, and your other losses.
So, how do you pursue compensation after a construction accident in Florida? There are actually two ways, both of which require you to hire a lawyer who can deal with your employer (or your spouse’s employer), the insurance companies, and any contractors or other companies that may have been at fault in the accident. These companies have teams of defense lawyers, and it simply will not be a fair fight unless you have experienced legal representation on your side.
Two Ways to Seek Financial Compensation After a Construction Accident
Option 1: File for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The first way to pursue compensation after a construction accident is to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Under Florida law, qualifying employers (which include most major construction companies) have a legal obligation to pay workers’ compensation benefits to their injured employees. These are no-fault benefits – with only very limited exceptions, employers must pay regardless of the cause of the accident. As a result, injured construction workers and families who have lost loved ones working construction will frequently be entitled to seek benefits for:
- Electrical accidents
- Equipment, truck, and heavy machinery accidents
- Falls from heights
- Ladder and scaffolding accidents
- Injuries from being struck by tools, materials, or debris
- Injuries from being pinned under or against objects
Again, when it comes to workers’ compensation, it does not matter who (or what company) was at fault in the accident. If you were injured or your spouse, parent, or other close family member was killed, you need to speak with an attorney about claiming the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
The benefits available through the Florida workers’ compensation system depend upon the extent of the harm suffered and whether the accident was fatal or resulted in non-life-threatening injuries. For non-fatal accidents, the benefits available through workers’ compensation include:
- Disability or impairment benefits (partial wage replacement)
- Coverage for medical expenses
In fatal accident cases, the death benefits that are available to spouses, minor children, and certain other dependent family members through workers’ compensation include:
- Funeral expenses up to $7,500
- Dependent compensation
- Educational benefits (surviving spouses only)
For additional details and information on the limits that apply to workers’ compensation benefits in Florida, you can visit the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation Benefits website.
Option 2: File a Claim for Personal Injury or Wrongful Death
The second way to pursue compensation for a construction site accident is to file a claim for personal injury or wrongful death. With these types of claims, you can recover full compensation for your accident-related losses (unlike workers’ compensation benefits, which are limited).
In order to file a claim for personal injury or wrongful death, you will need to be able to establish that someone other than your employer is to blame for your injuries or your loved one’s passing. While employers must pay limited no-fault benefits to all injured employees, they take on this obligation in exchange for a legal guarantee that they will not be sued for their employees’ job-related injuries (except in certain, egregious circumstances).
But if your employer is not at fault, then who is?
On a typical construction site, there will be employees of multiple different companies working together at any one time. General contracting, electrical, HVAC, concrete pouring – usually each of these aspects of a construction project will be handled by a different independent contractor or subcontractor. If you or your loved one was injured in an accident caused by an employee of one of these independent companies (including, for example, a site manager who failed to ensure adequate safety precautions), in some instances, that company could be fully responsible for you and your family’s losses.
There are other potential sources of compensation as well. For example, many construction accidents result from dangerous and defective products. If you fell from a ladder that was designed or manufactured improperly, if you were injured by a defective tool, or if you were injured in an accident involving a defective truck or piece of heavy machinery, there may be several companies that all share liability for your injury. If you were injured or your loved one was killed due to an issue with the property itself, the landowner may hold financial responsibility for your medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other losses.
In any case, the key is to conduct a thorough investigation as quickly as possible. You need to know who was to blame, and you need to collect evidence to be used to prove their liability in settlement negotiations or at trial. This means hiring an experienced personal injury law firm with the team and resources necessary to promptly take action to protect your rights.
IMPORTANT: You Can (and Should) File Both Types of Claims
When it comes to seeking to recover just compensation for your injuries or your loved one’s death, you do not need to choose between filing for workers’ compensation benefits and filing a claim for personal injury or wrongful death. You can file for both, and it is critical that you do so.
While workers’ compensation benefits are limited, in many cases, you can recover these benefits more quickly than you can recover compensation for personal injuries or wrongful death. With the help of an experienced attorney, you may even be able to negotiate a lump-sum payment so that you do not have to wait for a check to come in each and every month. You may need to pay back your workers’ compensation benefits if you secure a settlement or verdict in your personal injury or wrongful death case, but your attorneys may be able to help ensure that you still retain maximum compensation.
Schedule a Free Tampa, FL Construction Accident Consultation Today
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, our team of 10+ attorneys and 40+ professional staff members provide experienced legal representation for injured construction workers and their families throughout the greater Tampa, FL area. To learn more about your rights and get the help you need to seek maximum compensation, call (800) 538-4878, start a Live Chat or request a free consultation online today.
Disclaimer: Because of the fact that cases involving Construction Accident injuries may be highly complex and exceedingly specific, our law firm commonly works with other law firms who have considerable experience in each particular case type. Thus, we may be referring these types of cases to a separate firm, with whom we typically associate and work with on a co-counsel basis.