Can You or Your Company Get Sued for Not Having Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
The purpose of workers’ compensation insurance is to both protect employers from lawsuits filed by injured employees and to ensure that employees can more easily be compensated for injuries that they sustain while working. If employers do not have workers’ compensation insurance when they should, employees are generally able to file personal injury lawsuits against them. If you are a company in Florida that does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you should know that you are leaving yourself vulnerable to lawsuits, as well as other severe penalties. To learn more about the consequences that you can face for failing to have a workers’ comp policy in Florida and how the Florida workers’ compensation brokers at NPN Brokers can help you find one that works for you, keep reading.
Can Florida Employers Without Workers’ Compensation Be Sued?
Workers’ compensation exists to ensure that employees receive compensation for the injuries that they sustain in the workplace. Through workers’ compensation insurance, employees can receive payments to cover medical bills and some of their lost wages; the families of employees who die while working can receive death benefits through workers’ compensation insurance as well.
When workers are covered by a workers’ compensation policy, they lose their right to sue their employer over any injuries that occur. However, if an employer does not get workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, those workers are able to sue them.
It should be noted that not all employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Only those that employ more than four people must generally have workers’ compensation insurance in Florida. Companies in the agricultural industry must get workers’ compensation insurance if they have at least six regular employees or 12 seasonal employees, while construction companies and construction-related companies (this includes occupations such as plumbing, carpentry and floor work) must get workers’ compensation insurance if they employ even one person. Contractors and subcontractors are considered to be employees under the law.
Employees that sue their employers following a workplace injury are often able to recover compensation for medical costs, current and future lost wages, and pain and suffering; some employees may be able to recover punitive damages as well. The amount that employees are able to receive through lawsuits against their employers is usually much greater than what the employer would have paid for a workers’ compensation policy in the first place.
Other Penalties for Not Having Workers’ Compensation in Florida
Lawsuits from injured employees are only one of the penalties for not having workers’ compensation insurance in Florida. Investigators employed by the State of Florida may look into whether your company has workers’ compensation insurance at any time; they have the authority to request business records, speak with employees, and issue subpoenas at any point in their investigation. If these investigators find that your company does not have workers’ compensation insurance when it should, they may penalize you in the following ways.
Employers that don’t have a workers’ compensation policy may have to either pay a fine of $1,000 per uninsured person or pay an amount that is double what they would have paid in premiums for the length of time that they went without a policy.
Another possible consequence of not having a workers’ compensation policy is a stop-work order; this may also be issued if there is a workers’ compensation policy in place but the employer concealed payroll information or misrepresented an employee’s duties. A stop-work order means that the company must stop all business operations until it complies with Florida’s workers’ compensation requirements. Continuing to do business after a stop-work order has been issued can result in a third-degree felony charge or a fine of $1,000 per day (or both).
Employers should note that falsely claiming that an employee is an independent contractor to avoid getting a workers’ compensation policy is a form of insurance fraud. This can result in a fine of $5,000 for each employee and possible jail time. It’s also illegal for employers to make false statements in an attempt to lower their premiums, fail to report employees’ injuries, fire or retaliate against employees for reporting their injuries, or take employees’ wages to pay for workers’ compensation premiums.
Possible Lawsuits Involving Workers’ Compensation Insurance
In most cases, employees who are covered under a workers’ compensation policy are unable to file lawsuits against their employers if they suffer an injury; however, there are a few exceptions.
If an employer takes direct action against an employee with the intention of causing them harm (this should be a physical action, such as pushing them), the employee may be able to file a lawsuit against their employer. These cases are often difficult to prove, though, since it must be shown that the employer knew that their action was certain to cause injury to the employee.
In some cases, employees are able to sue third parties for their injuries. If, for example, an employee is injured while using a defective product at work, they may be able to file a liability claim against the manufacturer. Employees who face prolonged exposure to toxic substances while at work may also be able to hold the manufacturer of the toxic substance liable.
Avoid Being Sued with Workers’ Comp Coverage for Your Florida Business from NPN Brokers
If you do not have workers’ comp insurance for your employees, know that you’re likely putting the future of your company at risk. Act now to secure a policy so that you can protect both yourself and your employees. NPN Brokers makes it fast and easy to find the right policy. Visit our website today to get a workers’ compensation policy quote or call us at (866) 340-9120.