What Workplace Injuries Are Not Covered in Florida?
Under Florida law, most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage—and this coverage protects their injured workers in most circumstances. But there are some exceptions.
When you get seriously injured on the job, it is important to know whether your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage applies. If it does, you are entitled to benefits, and you must take the appropriate steps to collect the benefits you deserve. If it doesn’t apply, then you may have different legal rights, and there may be different steps you need to take to recover compensation for your losses.
So, what workplace injuries are not covered in Florida?
7 Situations When Workplace Injuries Are Not Covered Under Workers’ Comp in Florida
There are seven main situations in which workplace injuries are not covered under workers’ compensation. These situations are:
1. You Work for a Small Business
In Florida, most businesses with less than four employees are exempt from the state’s workers’ compensation coverage requirements. This means that they do not have to provide workers’ compensation coverage for any injuries, although many small businesses choose to provide workers’ compensation coverage voluntarily.
There are special rules for employers in construction and agriculture. In construction, all companies with at least one employee must provide workers’ compensation coverage. For farms and other agricultural businesses, the law requires coverage for employers with at least six regular employees or 12 seasonal workers who work more than 30 days during a season.
2. You Are An “Independent Contractor” Instead of an “Employee”
As a general rule, workers’ compensation only covers “employees” who get injured on the job. If you are an “independent contractor,” then you may not be eligible for benefits.
Most workers in Florida are employees. If you work a regular full-time or part-time schedule and receive a paycheck with FICA taxes deducted, then you are almost certainly an employee. If you receive a W-2 form at the end of the year, this generally means you are an employee as well.
But, if you don’t, you should not assume that you are an independent contractor. Many employers improperly classify their workers as independent contractors. Some do so accidentally, while others do so on purpose in an effort to avoid liability for workers’ compensation and other employment-related expenses. If you have questions about your employment status, you should speak with a lawyer before making any decisions that may impact your legal rights.
3. You Got Injured in a Collision While Commuting
While commuting is undoubtedly a work-related activity, workers’ compensation does not cover injuries sustained while commuting in most cases. Even though commuting is necessarily work-related, it is not considered to be “within the scope of employment” for workers’ compensation purposes.
But, there are some exceptions. For example, let’s say your employer asks you to run an errand on your way to work. Or, maybe your employer asks you to make a delivery on your way home at the end of the day. In each of these scenarios, the fact that your employer asked you to perform a task during your commute could entitle you to benefits in the event of a collision.
4. You Got Injured at a Company Outing
In some circumstances, injuries suffered during company outings are ineligible for workers’ compensation. This includes outings such as picnics, holiday parties, recreational activities and retreats. However, there are various factors that can lead to injuries during these outings being covered. So, if you have been injured during a company outing, you will still want to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer about the benefits that may be available to you.
5. You Were Engaging in Horseplay
For a workplace injury to be covered, the injury must occur within an employee’s scope of employment. This includes injuries suffered while performing job-related tasks as well as injuries suffered while walking to the bathroom, walking to the office cafeteria, and doing other tasks that are necessary for working in the employer’s facility or on the employer’s jobsite.
But, it does not include injuries suffered while engaging in horseplay. Similar to commuting, engaging in horseplay is not considered to be “within the scope of employment.” It is unnecessary, and it can be dangerous, so it isn’t covered under workers’ compensation.
6. You Were Drunk or High
Workers’ compensation also does not cover workplace injuries if employees are drunk or high when they get injured. While there are rules around how and when employers in Florida can test their employees, valid evidence of intoxication is grounds for denial of workers’ compensation benefits.
7. You Hurt Yourself Intentionally
Finally, workers’ compensation does not cover self-inflicted intentional injuries. This exception is designed to dissuade employees from injuring themselves in order to become eligible for benefits. Not only is injuring yourself dangerous but injuring yourself in order to file for benefits is also considered a form of workers’ compensation fraud. If you file for workers’ compensation after injuring yourself, your claim will not be covered, and your employer may decide to terminate your employment.
What If Your Workplace Injury Isn’t Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
Let’s say you got injured on the job, and let’s say your injury isn’t covered under workers’ compensation. What are your options?
In this scenario, your legal rights depend on several factors. One of these factors is why you are ineligible for benefits. If you are ineligible because your employer doesn’t provide coverage or you are an independent contractor, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. If you have earned enough “credits,” you may also be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. There are other possibilities as well, and an experienced lawyer can walk you through all of the options you have available.
Speak with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Florida
If you have suffered a workplace injury in Florida, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights. To speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in confidence, please call 954-994-2979 or request a consultation online now.