3 Laws Florida Contractors Need To Know About Construction Accidents
Florida contractors are well-aware of the dangers on the construction site, but a few statistics should put things into perspective in terms of accidents and injuries. According to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), there are almost 450 total cases filed in Palm Beach County every year by construction employees. This figure represents about 11 percent of cases filed across all industries. For injured construction workers, the average benefits paid out is $63,647 compared to $40,014 for workers in all other sectors.
Obviously, these amounts do not come out of your pocket; Florida workers’ compensation laws require construction contractors to carry insurance to cover the losses sustained by injured employees. However, there are a few additional laws and legal concepts that a Florida construction lawyer can explain in more detail, such as:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes a set of standards, so contractors must be familiar with those falling under both General Industry and Construction. Together, these standards cover requirements on:
- Ladders, scaffolding, and platforms;
- Working and walking surfaces;
- Exit and entry to the work site;
- Operating heavy equipment;
- Personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Emergency planning and procedures; and
- Many other standards intended to ensure a safe work environment.
Workers’ Comp Rules
In the event of an accidental injury, construction employees have 30 days to notify their employers about the incident. The contractor then has 7 days to inform its workers’ compensation insurance company, which will investigate the claim and make a decision regarding payment of benefits. If the insurer denies the injured employee’s claim, the employee has 2 years from the date of the accident to file an appeal with DWC. In addition, note that:
- Florida’s workers’ compensation laws are no-fault, so a worker does not need to prove negligence.
- Benefits are paid out starting on Day 8 for employees who suffer disabilities lasting less than 21 days.
- For workers whose disability extends 21 days or more, benefits are paid from Day 1.
- With the exception of emergency treatment, Florida workers’ comp insurance companies require injured employees to see a pre-approved physician.
Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation Laws
There are certain scenarios in which workers’ comp laws do NOT apply to construction accidents. In other words, an employee’s sole remedy is not through the workers’ comp system if:
- The construction contractor does not carry workers’ comp insurance as required by law;
- The employee was injured as a result of intentional misconduct by the employer; and,
- The construction worker was injured because of negligent acts of a third party.
Trust the Details to Our South Florida Construction Attorneys
It is helpful to know the basics about these laws that apply to construction accidents in Florida, but it is smart to count on skilled legal counsel for the specifics. Our construction lawyers at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. have extensive experience handling the wide array of legal issues contractors face every day, so please contact our firm to set up a consultation. You can reach our Jupiter, FL offices by calling 561-626-8880 or visiting us online.