The Florida Workers compensation system is broken. The insurance industry has lobbied and won, while Florida employees and their families have lost. The benefits available to an injured worker pale in comparison to those available outside the workers compensation system. The Death benefits statute is egregious.
A horrific accident that occurred yesterday highlights the injustice of the system. A man and 2 of his co-workers were cleaning debris on Southwest 57th Street near Pine Island Road when the man went through a wood chipper machine . The still unidentified man died on the scene.
Wood chippers are as dangerous a piece of equipment as is out there, As reported by the Sun Sentinel, this is not the first incident involving a wood chipper in South Florida. Jose DeJesus Velasquez, 53, of Oakland Park, got entangled in a wood chipper while working for Twin Tree Service at Camino Del Mar Country Club west of Boca Raton on May 29, 1997.
Nearly 10 years prior to the 1997 incident, a 21-year-old worker from Hollywood named Alan Douglas Barnes lost his right arm when it was caught in a machine that shreds tree limbs in Plantation.
Unfortunately for the workers family, the benefits available are $150,000.00. This figure is regardless of his age, regardless of how many children he has. That is simply ridiculous!!!! Not only does the law not allow for pain and suffering damages, but to limit economic damages at $150,000 is absurd.
The only remedy available to the workers family is to proceed with what is known as a 3rd party suit. In this particular case one needs to look to the manufacturer or distributor of that wood chipper, because it should of had a cutoff switch. If that switch was faulty or had been removed then the family can sue and recover all the damages available under the Florida Wrongful Death Statute. The caveat is that unlike workers compensation the Plaintiff must prove fault, the benefit is that there is no cap on economic damages and the survivors are entitle to receive compensation for the loss of their loved one.