Workers’ Compensation Law ‘Exclusive Remedy’ is Upheld in Florida Supreme Court

The states high court in Florida handed down a court ruling in response to a recent case that challenged a key provision of Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law. The case of (Morales v. Zenith Insurance Company SC13-696) the court ruled that an injured worker can not seek benefits in civil law courts. The court upheld the states “exclusive remedy” provision that does not allow an injured worker to seek additional compensation beyond workers’ compensation in Florida. Exclusive remedy requires an injured worker to forgo their rights to sue in a Florida civil court. In the Morales case, the widow of Mr. Morales had received a workers’ comp settlement with his former employer’s insurance company which she agreed would be her sole remedy to the death of her husband. But as a report showed Morales pursued a new civil claim under the liability portion of the insurance policy in which she won $9.25 million but the insurance company did not pay on that judgment. The case was moved to federal court where the judgment was reversed based on the exclusive remedy clause which does not allow injured workers to seek additional claims beyond Florida’s workers’ compensation. After the plaintiff appealed the new ruling, a Supreme Court Justice upheld the exclusive remedy provision of the Florida Workers’ Compensation law. The judge found that Morales did not have the right to bring an additional tort action against the company since she had reached a settlement agreement with Florida workers’ compensation. Injured workers in Florida can be awarded a lump sum payment that covers all losses in the case including wage-losses and medical which in turn releases the insurance company from any further liability in the claim. When Morales agreed to the workers’ comp settlement the tort court should have been prohibited from seeing the case because of Florida workers’ compensation immunity and the release. The Broderick Law Firm workers compensation attorneys followed the Morales’ claim closely as it challenged the current laws and could have potentially changed the way the laws were intended to work.

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