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Workers’ Compensation and Co-Worker Immunity from Lawsuits

WorkAccident

If you were injured on the job  by a co-worker, unless it was an intentional act, you are precluded from suing your co-worker but may still file a workers’ compensation claim against the employer and its carrier.

In Florida, it is very difficult to sue a co-worker for causing your injuries on the job. Workers’ compensation benefits are provided to you in lieu of your suing your employer in all but the most extreme cases, and the same goes for suing a co-worker, even if all the evidence and witnesses point to the work accident being entirely his or her fault. In order to file a personal injury lawsuit against a co-worker, you must be able to prove that he or she was grossly negligent, which is difficult to prove in a court of law. As per Florida statute 440.11, “fellow-employee immunities shall not be applicable to an employee who acts, with respect to a fellow employee, with willful and wanton disregard or unprovoked physical aggression or with gross negligence when such acts result in injury or death or proximately cause such injury or death.”

 “Unrelated Works” is an Exception to Co-Worker Immunity

So can an injured worker ever sue a co-worker if his or her negligence cannot be construed as “gross?” The answer is yes, sometimes. No immunity is given to a co-employee in the following situation, according to Florida law:

  • “Employees of the same employer when each is operating in the furtherance of the employer’s business but they are assigned primarily to unrelated works within private or public employment.” If the work that each employee was doing can be considered unrelated, there may be an opportunity to file a lawsuit against the co-worker.

Horizontal Immunity

Fla. Stat. 440.11 also immunizes subcontractors who may have caused your injuries on the job, and, while that may seem unfair, that’s the law. “A subcontractor providing services in conjunction with a contractor on the same project or contract work is not liable for the payment of compensation to the employees of another subcontractor or the contractor on such contract work and is protected by the exclusiveness-of-liability provisions of s. 440.11 from any action at law or in admiralty on account of injury to an employee of another subcontractor, or of the contractor, provided that:

  1. The subcontractor has secured workers’ compensation insurance for its employees or the contractor has secured such insurance on behalf of the subcontractor and its employees; and
  2. The subcontractor’s own gross negligence was not the major contributing cause of the injury.”

Call an Experienced Attorney Today

If you were injured on the job by a fellow employee or contractor, do not hesitate to call the West Palm Beach workers’ compensation attorneys at Celeste Law Firm today at 561-478-2447. We are prepared to assist you today.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0400-0499/0440/Sections/0440.11.html

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