If you are a passenger in a friend’s car and your friend’s driving causes you to be injured in a car accident, you have the right to make a claim against the at-fault driver for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering damages. But what if the at-fault driver was a coworker? Do you have the same rights? You may be surprised.
Under Florida law, if a driver causes a car accident injuring a coworker passenger while within the course and scope of their employment, the injured coworker is prohibited from bringing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. The injured coworker is restricted to workers’ compensation only and is not compensated for 100% of his or her lost wages or loss of earning capacity or pain and suffering or other intangible damages.
Florida Statute 440.11 states workers’ compensation benefits shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability, including vicarious liability. The statute continues by saying, “the same immunities from liability enjoyed by an employer shall extend as well to each employee of the employer when such employee is acting in furtherance of the employer’s business and the injured employee is entitled to receive benefits under this chapter.”
Personally, this seems a bit unfair to the injured coworkers. If the at-fault driver runs a red light causing the vehicle to be smashed on the passenger side, the occupants in the other car have the right to make a personal injury claim against the driver; but the passenger, who received the brunt of the impact, is confined to medical treatment dictated by the workers’ compensation carrier and no more than two-thirds of his or her lost wages. Most times, the passenger has little say as to which coworker drives the vehicle he is instructed to ride in which makes this law even more unfair.
Yes, there are exceptions (gross negligence and unrelated works), but those exceptions are very hard to meet. As long as the coworkers were within the course and scope of their employment at the time of the crash, the innocent injured coworker will likely be capped at workers’ compensation benefits.
So, be careful who you ride with at work because of their negligence could result in injuries to your body and you will be further injured in the legal system.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.