If you work in construction, landscaping or health care, you know there are many hazards that come with the job. Those who are injured at work in Florida may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which are the exclusive remedy one has against his or her employer in such matters. However, there could be grounds for a third-party liability lawsuit if there was a person or entity other than the employer who was responsible for what happened.
In the recent case of Newton v. Caterpillar Corp., plaintiff worked as an independent contractor (and therefore not eligible for workers’ compensation), assigned to help clear debris of the private lot of a residential area. He was hired by a hauling company to assist its agent in doing this job. Plaintiff and this agent used a Bobcat loader to assist in helping to clear the lot. The hauling company didn’t own the loader. It was leased from defendant Caterpillar. The loader was brought to the site in a box trailer to the property, where plaintiff and agent worked to clear the land.
At one point, while the two were trying to move a tree stump into the trailer, the agent was operating the loader and asked plaintiff to get inside the trailer to pack down the debris that was coming in. While plaintiff was inside the trailer, the agent released the tree stump. Plaintiff tried to warn the agent he was still inside, but he couldn’t be heard. He tried to climb over the wall of the trailer, but the stump dropped from the loader’s bucket and then rolled back onto plaintiff’s hand. As a result, his middle finger was severed. Continue reading