FLORIDA WORKMAN’S COMPENSATION: MAN DIES AFTER BEING BULLDOZED WHILE USING A PORTA-POTTY
Recently, Aaron Henderson, a landfill traffic controller, was killed by a bulldozer while in a porta-potty. According to the reports, the bulldozer driver traveled up a hill to the landfill at night. While driving, the front blade of the bulldozer partially obstructed his vision due to the angle and height.
As a result, the driver accidentally bulldozed a porta-potty that he did not see. Once he heard the crumbling metal and plastic, he stopped his vehicle, but it was already too late for Aaron Henderson by that time.
The operator quickly jumped out of his vehicle to check the porta-potty for occupants. What he found was Mr. Henderson’s lifeless body inside. While this accident is tragic and heart-wrenching, similar workplace accidents resulting in death ( 4 – 5 thousand per year) happen far too often.
With that in mind, you may be wondering, “Is Aaron Henderson’s family eligible to sue for damages?” Continue reading to learn about Florida workman’s compensation laws and wrongful deaths at the workplace.
When Does Workman’s Compensation Handle a Workplace Accident?
Under Florida’s worker’s compensation laws, employers are mostly indemnified against personal injury lawsuits from employees. Instead, most workplace accident claims are handled and settled through the work comp process.
That includes cases that involve accidents like:
- Slip and falls
- Falling from heights
- Caught in-between
- Vehicle accidents and collisions
- Workplace violence
- And more.
It’s important to note that employees are typically unable to file a personal injury lawsuit against an employer for workplace injuries. However, an employee or their family can file a personal injury claim against third parties for injuries or wrongful deaths.
Understanding Workman’s Compensation Death Benefits
Worker’s compensation insurance covers injury and death. Generally, the deceased’s family, surviving spouse, or children can file a claim for death benefits up to 1 – 5 five years after the accident, depending on the circumstances. The worker’s compensation death benefit typically covers the following:
- Funeral expenses – Up to $7,500.
- Weekly payments – The surviving children, spouse, parents, or siblings may receive between 15 – 50% of the descendant’s wages.
- Educational benefits – A surviving spouse may be entitled to receive tuition payments for up to 1,800 hours of study at a career center or up to 80 hours for community college.
Generally, the worker’s compensation death benefit terminates once $150,000 (or less) is paid out to the dependants.
When Can an Employer Be Sued?
Employers can rarely (if ever) be sued for wrongful death at the workplace. However, suppose your family member suffered a wrongful death due to a third-party while on the job. In that case, you may be eligible to file a death benefits claim under worker’s compensation laws and a personal injury suit against a negligent or reckless third party.
Examples of third-parties that can face a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Third-party contractors or employees
- The property owner where the wrongful death occurred
- Manufacturers of defective products or equipment
Taking the example of Aaron Henderson, suppose a third-party contractor employed the bulldozer operator. In that case, Mr. Henderson’s family may be eligible to file a claim for the worker’s compensation death benefit and file a wrongful death claim against the third-party employer.
However, if they do suspect negligence or recklessness, they will need an experienced attorney for workman’s compensation and wrongful death claims on their side.
What To Do If Your Loved One Suffers a Wrongful Death
If your loved one has been killed while on the job, we recommend consulting with a proven workman’s compensation lawyer as soon as possible. A workman’s comp attorney can:
- Provide valuable insights into workman’s compensation laws regarding wrongful death
- Advise you on when to accept, reject, or negotiate work comp benefit claims
- File a workman’s compensation claim and wrongful death claim simultaneously
- Seek maximum compensation for your loses
It’s important to note that eligible surviving family members must file workman’s compensation death benefit claims and third-party personal injury claims within the statute of limitations. The sooner you contact an attorney about your case, the sooner they can get to work securing maximum compensation for you and your family.
Contact Schrier Law Group Today
The sudden death of a loved one can be devastating emotionally, physically, and financially. At Schrier Law Group, our worker’s compensation and wrongful death lawyers understand that no amount of money will replace your family member.
However, we also understand that you deserve to be compensated for the deceased’s lost income, financial support, love, etc. Our attorneys are compassionate, thoughtful, and aggressive. We won’t stop working until we get the best possible outcome in your case.
Can You Sue Your Current Employer for an On the Job Accident?
According to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation, there were more than 64,000 workers’ compensation claims in Florida in 2021. Of the cases that received a settlement, the average payout was roughly $15,000.
With that said, you typically can’t sue your employer for workers’ compensation benefits unless there are extenuating circumstances. You can potentially recover compensation for injuries if you have an injury at work via:
- Workers’ compensation claim
- Suing a third
- Suing your employer (in rare cases)
Individuals who have suffered injuries on the job should consult a proven workman’s comp lawyer as soon as possible. The attorneys at Schrier Law Group can help you assess the merits of your claim and, if necessary, pursue the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
Continue reading to learn more about suing your employer for on-the-job injuries.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws
Generally, Florida workers’ compensation laws stipulate that an employee can’t sue their employer for work-related accidents unless they deliberately injure the employee. In that case, you may be able to file a lawsuit for an intentional tory in Florida civil court.
Florida work comp is the only option most injured employees have for recovering damages for workplace injuries. That means that employees rarely (if ever) can sue an employer for non-deliberate injuries that happen while working.
Suppose you were injured by a third-party while on the job. In that case, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover damages. Learn more about suing the third party in the next section.
Suing a Third Party For Workplace Injuries
If a third party injures you while on the job, you may have a viable personal injury claim against them. However, it’s important to note that your claim would be outside the workers’ compensation system. A few of the most common types of third party injuries include:
- Accidents caused by dangerous equipment: Many labor-intensive jobs (i.e., construction, roofing, machinery, etc.) involve hazardous machines. Sometimes those machines cause damage to employees while they’re working. If you’ve been injured by a dangerous device while working, you may be eligible to file a third-party personal injury suit against the manufacturer.
- Premises Liability Accidents: Suppose you had an injury at work due to unsafe conditions. In that case, you may be eligible to file a premises liability claim against the property owner.
- Car Accident Claims: If you are injured while driving for your job by a negligent driver, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim and pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer. Further, if the other driver doesn’t have insurance or is underinsured, you can file a claim with your own underinsured motorist policy.
It’s essential to note that third-party personal injury claims can be complex and frustrating. In most cases, you should consult a proven workman’s comp lawyer before pursuing a claim.
Your workman’s comp attorney can investigate your claim, collect evidence, conduct interviews, and ultimately, pursue maximum damages. Contact Schrier Law Group today to discuss your claim.
What to do if You Experience an Injury on The Job
There are a few steps you should take if you get an injury at work. They include but are not limited to:
- Immediately inform your supervisor or manager
- Take pictures of the injury and accident scene
- Seek immediate medical attention and let them know it’s a work-related injury
- Contact a workman’s comp lawyer
- Present a written notice to your employer
- Keep a journal of your injury, recovery, medical treatments, etc.
- Follow all doctor orders
Further, whether you’re pursuing a workers’ comp claim or a third-party claim, it’s essential to keep the details of your case confidential. Additionally, it’s typically a good idea to avoid social media, posting pictures, and engaging in any activity that could contradict your story.
Remember, the insurance company is always watching. Anything you say, do, or post can limit your ability to recover compensation for your injuries.
Contact a Florida Workman’s Comp Lawyer Today
The administrative court system handles Florida workman’s comp claims. That means that you must go through the process of filing a petition for workers’ comp benefits and mediation by a neutral party.
Hiring a proven workers’ comp lawyer can increase your chances of settling before trial. However, if a settlement agreement isn’t possible, your attorney can take your case to court and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact The Schrier Law Group today for your free initial consultation with a proven workman’s comp lawyer in Florida.