Court Limits Employer Liability for Recent Pedestrian-Railroad Fatality
Last month, a Florida state appellate court issued an opinion regarding the duty of care owed by employers to their employees. The ruling could have important repercussions on these types of cases going forward, so if you were involved in an accident and believe that your employer was partly responsible, you should consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer about your legal options.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Based on Claims of Employer Negligence
The case in question involved a plaintiff whose employer maintained a bar on-site for their employees’ use. After visiting the bar when her shift was over, the plaintiff became inebriated and was asked to leave the premises. Her access to the building was also revoked. The plaintiff was later killed after deciding to walk home along a set of railroad tracks and was tragically struck by an oncoming train.
Later, the plaintiff’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the decedent’s employer, arguing that it was negligent for the company to provide their employees with alcohol and then escort them off the premises without providing further assistance. According to the decedent’s estate, it was foreseeable that an employee could be struck by a train or be injured in another type of accident in this kind of situation. The estate also claimed that the decedent’s employer was aware that she had an alcohol problem, but still failed to take further action to prevent injury.
The trial court rejected the estate’s arguments and dismissed the claim against the employer, explaining that in Florida, only those who are considered alcohol vendors can be held liable for subsequent injuries resulting from a customer’s intoxication. The court went on to note that the employer didn’t sell the drinks to employees, but gave them away for free and did not require employees to consume them. The estate later appealed, arguing that even in the absence of social-host liability, the employer was liable for the decedent’s death based on a prior case, which stated that employers could be found liable for injuries sustained by an employee while he or she was drinking and performing work-related duties. The court rejected this argument, distinguishing the case by pointing out that the decedent wasn’t forced to drink and was also not performing a work-related duty at the time of her death.
Employer Liability and Workers’ Compensation
Most workplace accident claims are handled under the state’s workers’ compensation program, which allows injured employees to collect compensation for medical bills and lost wages for accidents that take place at work, regardless of who was at fault. However, injured employees can only claim benefits under this program if they were acting within the scope and course of their employment, which does not include traveling to and from work.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today for Advice
Please call 954-566-9919 today to learn more about your legal options when it comes to injuries sustained at work. A member of the legal team at Boone & Davis in Fort Lauderdale is standing by and eager to begin working on your case.