The short answer to your question is yes. He should consult with a personal injury lawyer who also practices workers compensation.
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He may not have a personal injury case at all against the company. Most likely, his medicals are already being covered by his employer's Workers' Compensation coverage. Workers' Compensation should also be covering 2/3 of your acquaintance's lost wages. If he is not receiving these benefits, he needs to contact an experienced Florida Workers' Compensation attorney right away.
In Florida, Workers' Compensation coverage is generally the exclusive remedy that a worker has if he is injured on-the-job. There is no personal injury (i.e. case pain and suffering) claim available -- regardless of how serious the injuries are. There are a couple of extremely narrow (almost impossible) exceptions to this rule. Your friend should probably speak to an experienced personal injury attorney about this, as it is a complicated area of the law.
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It depends on who was responsible for his injury.
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Your friend should consult a worker's compensation attorney that handles claims for injured workers to find out his specific rights. However, generally speaking, workers that get injured on the job "in the course and scope of their employment" are entitled to have their medical bills and other related expenses paid along with a portion of their lost wages for a specified period of time. But they are not entitled to other damages that normally are recoverable in a "personal injury" claim since the injury is covered by workers' compensation. Under Florida law, an employee who receives worker's compensation benefits is prohibited from pursuing a "personal injury" claim against his/her employer (who enjoys "worker's compensation immunity" from such claims by injured employees). Your friend's undocumented status, however, may present more of a practical problem to recovery since he could face deportation if he pursues a worker's compensation claim where his status would likely be discovered.
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Comp is a no-fault solution; and it is the only solution when the employer is actually at fault. But, if someone else was at fault, then maybe there is a personal injury claim to be made against the 3d party. If there is a third party settlement, then Comp is entitled to be reimbursed (not 100%) for the money they paid for medical expenses and indemnity (lost wages). But, there are times when that 3d party is treated by law as if it were the employer - which again limits the injury victim to only bring a claim under workers' comp. Comp only pays economic damages; but PI pays for economic and non-economic damages such as pain?suffering, mental anguish, and loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life. But, Comp settlements usually require resignation from the job.
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No, his exclusive remedy is workers compensation unless he can prove that a 3rd party, not his employer, caused or substantially contributed to cause his injury.
He should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. The Guides can be accessed through my profile page on Avvo.com.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
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Most likely, the only thing he can do against the employer is make a worker's compensation claim. However, if someone from another company was negligent, that company may be responsible in a personal injury claim (perhaps a sub-contractor, supplier). There could also be a product liability case if the incident occurred because of some defective machinery or material.
Todd is a partner at the law firm of Stabinski & Funt, P.A., specializing in accident and insurance claims. Stabinski & Funt has been serving South Florida for over 42 years. Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone toll free (877)48-CLAIM. This is not to be considered legal advice nor does an attorney-client relationship exist. www.stabinski-funt.com
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