If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident in Miami, you may be left with medical bills, lost wages, and similar losses. In many circumstances, you can seek compensation for such losses by filing an insurance claim.
The type of claim you file will depend on such factors as when and where the accident occurred. If you were injured at work, you would typically file a workers’ compensation claim. You would usually file a general personal injury claim if the accident occurred elsewhere. However, in some instances, you can file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim if a third party’s negligence caused the accident and your losses meet certain criteria.
A Miami personal injury attorney can help you better understand how to seek what you may be owed by reviewing your case and determining the appropriate method of recovering compensation. This blog will cover the basics. To learn more, schedule a free legal consultation with our experts at Elstein Legal.
The Differences Between Miami Workers’ Comp Claims and Miami Personal Injury Claims
In Florida, employers required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance include:
- Construction companies with one or more employees
- Non-construction employers with four or more employees
- Agricultural employers if a company has six regular employees or 12 seasonal employees who work upwards of 30 days a season but no more than 45 days in a calendar year
(Note: Sometimes an employer can apply for a workers’ compensation exemption.)
Workers’ compensation exists so that injured employees can easily seek compensation for such losses as their medical bills after being involved in on-the-job accidents.
However, not all accidents occur at work. If an accident was the result of another party’s negligence and it occurred outside the workplace, injured parties may instead be able to file personal injury claims.
Be aware that you may not necessarily file a claim against the negligent party after an accident. For example, if you were injured in a Miami car accident, you would first file a claim to recover compensation from your own insurance. Florida is a no-fault state, which means those injured in car accidents must usually seek compensation from their own insurer first, regardless of who caused the accident. If you are unsure of how you should file your personal injury claim, consult with the legal professionals at a reputable personal injury law firm in Miami.
When to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
You may be able to file a claim for workers’ compensation in Miami if you were injured in an accident that occurred while you were operating in an official work capacity. For example, if your job involves driving and you are involved in a car accident while driving for work, you can seek workers’ compensation benefits. If you were injured in a car accident while driving during your lunch break, you were not operating as an employee at the time of the accident. Workers’ compensation would not apply in this scenario.
Workers’ compensation also does not apply if:
- You were injured while trying to harm yourself (perhaps in hopes of a payout) or someone else.
- The accident occurred primarily because you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The Federal Employer’s Liability Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or the Jones Act covers the injury or death.
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer may try to deny your claim by arguing that, given the circumstances, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If you believe you have a valid claim, a Miami workers’ compensation lawyer can investigate your case and gather evidence showing you are entitled to workers’ compensation.
Miami Workers’ Comp Essentials: What To Do After an On-the-Job Accident
Your health and safety are your top priorities when you have been injured in a work-related accident. If your injuries are not severe enough to require immediate medical attention, take the following steps after being involved in an accident at work:
- Report the accident to your supervisor.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene.
- Document the scene and any visible injuries by taking pictures.
- See a doctor, even if you do not believe you have been significantly injured.
- Draft a narrative of the accident as you remember it.
- Strongly consider meeting with a Miami workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Proving Fault: A Key Difference Between Miami Workers’ Comp Claims and Miami Personal Injury Claims
When filing a workers’ compensation claim in Miami, you do have to prove that an accident was work-related and qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits. But, you do not have to prove that someone else was responsible for causing the accident.
Personal injury claims are different. Unless you were injured in a car accident or similar accident that would give you a reason to file a claim with your own insurance, when filing a personal injury claim you must prove that you were injured because another party was at fault.
This is another reason to consult with a Miami personal injury lawyer. You will be far more likely to successfully collect what you are owed if you work with legal experts who can help you gather and present evidence proving negligence.
Miami Workers’ Comp Claims vs. Miami Personal Injury Claims: What Can I Be Compensated For?
Miami workers’ compensation claims and Miami personal injury claims may also differ in regard to the types of losses and injuries for which you can be compensated. If you file a workers’ compensation claim, you can be compensated for basic losses such as the cost of medical treatment and lost wages. You cannot, however, be compensated for the following:
- Mental or nervous injury related to stress or fright
- A work-related condition that may cause you to dislike another due to such factors as their race, gender, etc.
- Pain and suffering
“Pain and suffering” refers to the general trauma an accident may leave you with. This can include physical pain, mental anguish, difficulties coping with lifestyle changes resulting from your accident, and similar struggles.
Florida’s workers’ compensation laws do not allow injured workers to recover compensation for pain and suffering. Calculating the dollar value of pain and suffering takes time, and can prevent workers from receiving compensation in a timely manner. A workers’ compensation attorney can help explain what exactly you may be compensated for.
You can seek compensation for such losses as pain and suffering if you are filing a general personal injury claim. The professionals at our personal injury law firm in Miami will help you determine how much money these non-economic losses may be worth.
Filing Both a Workers’ Compensation Claim and Personal Injury Claim
Because workers’ compensation does not cover losses like pain and suffering, and because there is a limit to the amount of money you can recover via a workers’ compensation claim, it is possible the compensation your employer’s insurer provides will not be sufficient to fully compensate you. A workers’ compensation law firm in Miami may be able to assist you if this is the case.
If the severity and extent of your losses after an on-the-job accident exceed a certain legal threshold, you may be able to file a claim to recover additional compensation from a party whose negligence caused the accident.
For example, perhaps you were injured in a car accident during work hours while delivering items for your employer. If the other driver was at fault, you may be able to file a joint workers’ compensation and personal injury claim.
The Role of a Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Law Firm in Miami
Hiring an attorney is critical if you plan on seeking additional compensation from a negligent party after a work-related accident. A Miami workers’ compensation attorney can help in the following ways:
- Reviewing your losses to determine if they meet the necessary criteria
- Identifying the liable negligent parties, which may require conducting a thorough investigation
- Calculating how much your claim is worth
- Presenting evidence showing another party’s negligence caused your accident
- Presenting evidence showing you are entitled to a specific amount of compensation
- Negotiating with insurance companies who may try to convince you to accept a lower offer if you do not work with a lawyer
- Handling such tasks as coordinating with adjusters, filing paperwork, and more, so that you can focus on your recovery
- Going to court if necessary
Just remember that this is all a general overview of what you may expect when filing a workers’ comp or personal injury claim. The best way to determine how to seek compensation (and to optimize your chances of collecting what you are owed) is to hire a lawyer.
Attorney Brian L. Elstein has years of experience handling both Miami workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. To learn more about what he and our team at Elstein Legal can do for you, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.