Non-Work, Work-Related Injuries in Florida
Employees who work offsite, even those who work at home, are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Some pandemic-related workplace changes appear to be permanent. Although the coronavirus pandemic is over, about a third of Florida employees still work from home, at least on a part-time basis. Many other workers go offsite for meetings, inspection tours, and so on. Still others work offsite at vendor locations. The law is quite clear that, no matter where an employee works, the employer has a duty of care to make that environment reasonably safe. The employers’ lack of control over the environment affects that duty but does not eliminate it altogether.
When employers neglect their legal responsibilities, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer works to obtain the compensation injury victims need and deserve. This compensation usually includes reasonable medical bill payment and lost wage replacement. These benefits are available even if the victim was partially at fault, or mostly at fault, for the work-related injury. These benefits are also available if a pre-existing condition contributed to the risk and/or severity of a work-related injury.
Children often attend classes in portable buildings, but they’re still “in school” even though they are not in the school building. A WFH office is like a portable school building. The employee is not onsite, but the employee is still “at work,” which means a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer can obtain benefits.
Florida law broadly defines the “work-related” requirement. If Mike falls on his way to lunch while he is off the clock, he is still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Likewise, if Mike falls at his house while he’s temporarily away from his WFH workstation, he is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
As mentioned, the court might take into consideration the fact that the employer did not control the premises and could not address safety hazards. That is especially true if the victim files a civil damage claim instead of a workers’ compensation claim.
These same principles apply to offsite injuries. A conference room at a vendor’s office building is an extension of the employee’s workplace.
This extension also applies to seemingly non-work-related injuries. If Mike breaks his leg at a company softball game, he is probably entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The softball game benefited his employer. Happy and healthy employees are more productive and less costly employees. Furthermore, the advertising (company’s name on the softball jersey) benefited the employer.
Recently, Florida legislators changed the law in this area. Injured victims are now entitled to the aforementioned benefits for up to five years.
We end with what may be the most complex issue in this area. Frequently, non-work or pre-existing conditions contribute to the risk of or severity of a work-related occupational disease, which is an injury that occurs over the course of more than one work shift.
Hearing loss is a good example. Many people hear loud noises outside of work. Furthermore, most people do not immediately see doctors if they must turn up the volume on the TV set.
Nevertheless, full workers’ compensation benefits are usually available in these situations. An attorney must prove the pre-existing or non-work condition aggravated the work-related injury, and not vice versa. Furthermore, victims do not have a legal responsibility to file claims until they know the full extent of their damages and they connect those damages with a work-related condition.
Contact a Savvy Hillsborough County Workers Comp Lawyer
Injured workers have important legal and financial rights in Florida. For a free consultation with a board-certified workers’ compensation lawyer in Tampa, contact the Rooth Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.