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Exclusive Remedy in Workers’ Compensation Cases

courtIf someone close to you has died due to the negligence of another, you may be able to recover compensation under Florida law. We know that the sudden loss of a loved one can be an enormously heartbreaking for family members. Our goal is to help families get the compensation they deserve for the loss of a loved one. While no amount of money can undo the harm, the money can help address the financial burdens that come with such a tragedy.

In Morales v. Zenith Ins. Co., a worker was crushed to death by a palm tree while working at an employer’s lawn maintenance business. The case was decided by the Supreme Court of Florida. Later, the worker’s widow agreed to accept workers’ compensation benefits. The contract through which she accepted workers’ compensation relieved the company from any further legal accountability in the case. In other words, the agreement stated that the workers’ compensation would be the widow’s sole remedy.

Some time later, the widow filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the company. The widow obtained a default judgment in the amount of just over $9.5 million. At this point, the company refused to pay the damages. A second lawsuit was filed in which the widow compelled the company’s insurer to pay the judgment.

Ultimately, the court of appeals held that the widow did have standing to bring a direct action against the company’s insurance company to recover the judgment against the company. However, due to the agreement the widow signed, workers’ compensation was the exclusive remedy for the widow. The court went on to note that the widow should never have been able to file a civil negligence action in the first place. In any case, the widow had waived her right to pursue a lawsuit in her workers’ compensation settlement contract. This is because the language in the workers’ compensation agreement clearly stated that the workers’ compensation benefits would be the exclusive remedy and would prevent the widow from collecting the tort judgment against the company.

The idea behind wrongful death claims is to shift the losses from the survivors to the negligent party. Put another way, wrongful death claims hold a reckless party accountable for its actions while alleviating the losses suffered by the victim’s close family or dependents. This case illustrates how complex wrongful death claims can be to pursue if other agreements are already in place.

Dealing with the sudden death of a relative is never easy, but you don’t have to face it alone. We can help you get through this difficult time with the proper legal advice and guidance. Our highly skilled South Florida wrongful death attorneys know this is a trying time for you and your family, which is why you can expect the utmost compassion from our entire staff. We are here to answer all your questions and address your concerns. If a loved one has died due to someone else’s carelessness, you should contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free case evaluation. We will work hard to get you what you deserve for your loss.

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Your Legal Rights After an Airplane Accident, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, November 19, 2014