Unfortunately, if your employer has less than four (4) employees you may not be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits under Florida Statue Ch. 440. Meaning if you get hurt on the job, YOU may be personally responsible for your medical treatment/bills as well as any and all time missed from work. Now, there are always exceptions to every rule (such as if you are in the construction industry). Under Florida Statute 440.055, [a]n employer who employs fewer than four employees, who is permitted by law to elect not to secure payment of compensation, and who elects not to do so shall post clear written notice in a conspicuous location at each work site directed to all employees and other persons performing services at the work site of their lack of entitlement to benefits under chapter 440.
If you are concerned as to whether a prospective new employer carries worker’s compensation insurance, you may want to inquire during the interview/application process. It is okay to ask if they carry Worker’s Compensation insurance.
On the other hand, if you are already employed and are not aware as to whether your employer has secured Workers Compensation insurance – ASK. However, there is another way to determine coverage. If there is a lunchroom, break room or a common area look for the broken arm poster. This poster contains the information one needs, including but not limited to the name, address and telephone number of the Worker’s Compensation Insurance carrier. This is a good indication that your employer carries Workers Compensation Insurance. Alternatively, if there is no coverage, the lack of coverage must be posted in a very easy to notice location, such as the is the lunch room, break room or common area.
However if you are hurt on the job and your Employer has more than four (4) employees and fails to obtain the appropriate coverage , you may be able to sue the employer in circuit court – see Florida Stature Statute 440.06. Such an employer not only loses its immunity but loses its common-law defense rights as well. If sued by an employee, an illegally uninsured employer may not raise the following common law defenses: (a) that of negligence of a fellow employee; (b) that the injured worker assumed the risk; (c) that the workers’ own comparative of contributory negligence caused the injury. An uninsured employer’s only remaining defense is that it was not negligent.
While electing not to secure coverage is far from fair, it is the law. However, depending on the facts of the case, you may be able to sue in circuit court.
If you find yourself in a coverage issue, and need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our office, as we are more than glad to provide legal advice.