Can I Sue My Employer in St. Petersburg for Not Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

COVID-19 continues to place many workers at risk. There has been much debate about an employer’s liability if an employee contracts COVID-19 while performing their job duties. One issue to consider is whether you can sue your employer in St. Petersburg if you become ill because your employer failed to provide personal protective equipment (PPE).

Are Employers Required to Provide Personal Protective Equipment?

Employers have a legal duty to maintain a safe work environment for employees. Therefore, employers must provide personal protective equipment in some cases. For example, construction companies are required by federal law to provide specific PPE for construction employees.

Typically, medical and healthcare facilities provide PPE for employees to use. However, other employers not involved in health care are generally not required to provide PPE for their employees. During the beginning of the pandemic, many employers did provide PPE, but that has changed since transmission rates are lower.

Can You Sue Your Employer if It Did Not Provide Personal Protective Equipment?

If your employer violated a federal or state law, you might be able to file a lawsuit if you sustained damages because the employer failed to provide PPE. However, Florida workers’ compensation laws prevent workers from filing lawsuits against employers in most cases. 

Typically, you can only sue an employer in Florida if:

  • The employer intentionally caused your injury;
  • The employer does not have the required workers’ compensation insurance coverage; or,
  • You are an independent contractor, and the employer’s negligence caused your injury. 

Therefore, winning a case based on being exposed to COVID-19 because your employer failed to provide required PPE is difficult. Furthermore, Florida’s Covid Shield Law places additional restrictions and limitations regarding COVID-19 lawsuits against businesses. 

A covered business can defend itself against COVID-19 lawsuits by establishing it made a good-faith effort to comply with guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19. However, the Covid Shield Law does not apply to workers’ compensation claims.

Why Would an Employee Want to Sue an Employer for Work Injuries?

When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove fault before you can recover compensation for damages. You cannot recover compensation if you cannot prove the legal elements for a negligence claim. 

Negligence claims would require the injured employee to prove the following:

  • The employer owed the employee a legal duty of care
  • The employer breached the legal duty of care by its acts or omissions
  • The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the employee’s injury
  • The employee sustained damages because of the breach of duty

However, workers’ compensation does not require employees to prove fault or negligence. Instead, the employee only needs to prove that the injury occurred while they were performing their regular job duties.

As long as the employee did not intentionally cause their injury or were intoxicated at the time of the injury, the employer could be partially at fault and still receive their full worker’s compensation benefits. Contributory fault laws do not apply in workers’ compensation cases, but they would in a personal injury case. 

Therefore, it appears that an employee would be able to receive workers’ comp with much less effort than filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. However, workers’ comp benefits do not compensate injured workers for all damages.

What Damages Could You Receive if You Sue Your Employer for Failing to Provide PPE in St. Petersburg?

Workers’ comp benefits only reimburse workers for a portion of their lost wages. It does not compensate the employee for other damages. 

However, if you have a legal cause of action to sue your employer in St. Petersburg for failing to supply PPE, you could receive compensation for all damages you sustained.

A personal injury lawsuit includes compensation for economic damages. You could also receive compensation for your non-economic damages. Those damages could include:

The value of your damages depends on the severity of your injuries and other factors. A St. Petersburg workers’ compensation lawyer can provide additional guidance and advice. Read here our workers’ compensation frequently asked questions answered by our experienced lawyers.

Contact the Pinellas County Employment Law Firm Of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help

The laws governing a Florida employer’s responsibility related to PPE and Covid are complicated and confusing. If you believe your employer violated your rights or broke the laws regarding PPE requirements, contact a St. Petersburg workers’ compensation lawyer. A lawyer is your best source of information regarding injury claims against employers in St. Petersburg. 

For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg employment law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We serve in Pinellas County and its surrounding areas:

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
United States
(727) 796-8282

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,
United States
(727) 349-1728