Family Sues For $3.5M In Forklift Death Accident
The family of a FedEx employee is suing for $3.5 million after the worker died in a forklift accident. In most cases, employers are immune from lawsuits arising from workplace injuries if they carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, if a third party contributes to the injury, then the company that hired that employee can be held liable.
In this case, the employee’s family is suing FedEx. OSHA has already stepped in to issue a fine against FedEx for six “serious” workplace violations. The cause of death was related to a broken ramp. The forklift overturned, killing the worker.
Even with the judgment from OSHA, workers’ compensation immunity would protect FedEx from a lawsuit. However, not every state requires every employer to carry workers’ compensation insurance. In some cases, the employer is allowed to insure themselves or handle claims their own way. In these cases, the worker can file a lawsuit against the company. That is the risk you run when you are not insured.
What about workers’ compensation immunity?
Depending on whether or not FedEx carried a policy, and it seems likely that they did, the lawsuit would be precluded by workers’ compensation immunity. However, several factors must line up before that can happen. Firstly, the company must have workers’ compensation insurance. If not, then they can be sued. A state like Florida forces all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Then, the insurer would review the claim and determine if it was covered by workers’ compensation. If it was, then workers’ compensation would take over the claim and the lawsuit would be dismissed.
Then why file a lawsuit?
The lawsuit may or may not be dismissed but FedEx now has an OSHA citation, will have OSHA breathing down its neck, and there is a newspaper article about the substandard conditions at their workplace. Even if the family only gets death benefits from a workers’ compensation policy, they are forcing FedEx into the position of taking accountability for the death of their loved one. So, although an employer may not be liable for a personal injury lawsuit filed by the family, they will have to answer some uncomfortable questions and will, hopefully, enact changes in the workplace. But chances are good the lawsuit will be dismissed on the grounds of workers’ compensation immunity.
Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Palmer | Lopez can help Tampa residents file lawsuits against third-party companies for work-related injuries. So long as the negligent party was not your employer, you can file a lawsuit. Call our Tampa personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.