Articles Posted in Workers Compensation

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A Gainesville worker was killed yesterday after striking an underground electric line. The man was apparently using an augur to excavate for construction purposes. The accident happened on private property.

We see electric shock accidents far too often. The result of electrical accidents are often devastating including death and disfiguring burns. Recently, we handled the worker’s compensation claim of a man shocked while working on electrical transmission lines. He suffered serious injuries including the partial amputation of his hand and foot. As a result, he was rendered permanently and totally disabled.

Buried lines present a significant danger if their location is not properly marked. A worker suffering an injury because of improperly marked lines may have both a worker’s compensation claim and a personal injury claim against the company that failed to properly mark the location of the line.
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In May of 2007, a construction worker fell twenty-five feet off of scaffolding at a construction site and suffered a fractured vertebrae. Normally, such injuries result in the worker receiving workers compensation benefits for medical expenses, lost wages and any resulting disability.construction_workers_on_a_roof.jpg

Unfortunately, the man’s employer lied about having workers compensation insurance. Tragically, the injured worker has been unable to work since the accident and has incurred approximately $370,000.00 in medical bills. He is described now as being “destitute.”

In our Jacksonville lawfirm, we see this far too often, especially in the construction industry. While the employer is ultimately responsible for the worker’s damages, commonly the employing company and its owners have no assets upon which the injured employee can collect. For example, in Florida a person’s home is exempt from collection regardless of how much it is worth.
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In workers’ compensation cases throughout the state, including Jacksonville, a 2003 state law greatly reduced the amount of fees awarded to attorneys for injured workers when winning claims. Because of this law, many attorneys stopped handling workers compensation cases as they were no longer profitable. As a result, employers gained a significant legal advantage as injured employees whose claims were denied were left without legal advocates.

The Legislature passed the restrictions in a supposed attempt to limit the costs of employers’ workers compensation insurance. However, while limiting the fees recoverable by attorneys’ representing injured employers, the Legislature made no effort to limit the fees that employers paid their own attorneys. The resulting unfairness often pitted unrepresented injured workers against well paid insurance defense lawyers.

982514_tooling_up.jpgIn a widely anticipated Florida Supreme Court ruling, these restrictions were eliminated. With the Supreme Court’s decision, the law governing the award of attorneys’ fees returns to its pre-2003 state, requiring the employer to pay a “reasonable” fee when it wrongly denies an employee’s workers’ compensation claim.