According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida saw 332 occupational fatalities in 2018. There are many causes of these deaths, but safety lapses and violations surely rank among the most common.
Florida’s workers’ compensation system provides a death benefit to certain family members. Unfortunately, this same system will prevent most surviving family members from suing an employer for wrongful death. That’s the tradeoff in workers’ comp—in exchange for benefits, an injured worker (or surviving family members) cannot sue.
Nevertheless, there are certain exceptions to this rule, which we find in Fla. Stat. § 440.11. Meet with a Miami wrongful death attorney to discuss.
An Employer Does Not Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance
Florida law requires that most employers carry a policy to cover workers. If an employer refused to buy a policy, then they lose the immunity from suit.
An Employer Intentionally Injured a Worker
Workers’ comp shield employer’s from lawsuits when their negligence causes death. But the law will not protect an employer whose intentional conduct led to the fatal accident.
Family members face a high hurdle to claim intentional conduct. You will need to show that an employer intentionally killed your loved one, which is rare. Alternately, you must show the employer knew their conduct was certain to injure or kill the employee but they covered up the risk or lied about it. We also need to show your loved one was unaware of the risk.
A Coworker Causes Death
Generally, we cannot sue a coworker whose negligence killed your loved one. But if they were “grossly negligent,” we can sue them and add the employer as vicariously liable for the death. Gross negligence is a somewhat vague concept, but it basically boils down to a coworker consciously disregarding the risks that his or her behavior will cause imminent harm.
Likewise, we can sue if the coworker acted with unprovoked aggression or “willfully and wantonly” hurt their coworker. An obvious example would be an employee attacking the deceased.
Third Party Lawsuits
Your loved one might have died while working, but someone other than their employer or a coworker is to blame. For example, a salesman who travels for work could have been killed on the road by a drunk driver. In situations like these, we can sue the person responsible.
Other workers are killed by unreasonably dangerous products, such as chemicals or defective equipment. The family can often bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer for a products liability claim.
Contact Our Miami Wrongful Death Lawyer to Learn More
Wrongful death lawsuits are hard to maintain, and family members need the right legal help. Please call Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein today at 305-371-2692, to schedule a free consultation.