It may seem somewhat counterintuitive to believe that volunteers could qualify as employees if you go by the colloquial meaning of these words. However, in the state of Florida, there are some circumstances where a volunteer will qualify as an employee – at least in regard to workers’ compensation purposes. As a result, they may be eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits if they suffer an injury while volunteering.
If you have suffered an injury while you were volunteering, it’s a good idea to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney West Palm Beach Florida so you can know what rights you have in this situation.
The Workers’ Compensation Act in Florida states that volunteers aren’t included in the definition of an employee. While this is true, there are some exceptions to this rule. The most common exception is if a person is volunteering for the state, for a governmental entity, municipality, or county.
Usually, anyone who isn’t being paid for their services is legally considered a volunteer. However, if you or your employer can prove that a valuable consideration existed, the presumption may be overturned.
Even though Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law doesn’t allow a governmental volunteer to receive workers’ compensation benefits, usually they will be able to receive indemnity benefits (these are benefits that are paid instead of wages during a period when an injured person is unable to work). Usually, the benefits you can receive include medical – which includes medical bills that relate directly to the injury. These are typically paid by the employer as long as you can prove the injury occurred while on the job.
Volunteer work is unpaid, which means the law doesn’t usually permit a volunteer to recover any lost wages because there aren’t any wages to recover. However, just like above, there are some exceptions. The most common is if the volunteer has another “concurrent” job.
While there aren’t any wages to recoup from the volunteer work, there may be wages that are lost at a concurrent paying job while the volunteer spends time recovering from the injury. If you can prove that you would lose these wages from your paying job while you were recovering from an injury you received while volunteering, you may be able to file a suit to receive indemnity benefits.
If your situation makes you an exception and you can receive workers’ compensation benefits – but you aren’t – you can file a lawsuit to reassert the rights you have to these benefits. However, a quality employer is probably going to be willing to work with you, especially since fighting a suit for these benefits is both expensive and time consuming. Most employers, especially various government agencies, don’t want to drag out this type of situation.
If you are in a situation where you believe you should be receiving workers’ compensation benefits after suffering an injury while volunteering, hiring an attorney is a smart move. Our team at Felice & Ehrlich can help to protect your rights and get you the benefits you deserve. To learn more, contact our legal team by calling (561) 444-8822 .
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