April 24, 2024

Workers’ Compensation Exclusive Remedy

A personal injury plaintiff alleges that: defendant negligently trained, supervised, controlled, managed, and hired employees, so as to allow them to negligently and recklessly operate a forklift in such a manner as to strike plaintiff, causing him injuries. Plaintiff has to present material facts to prove that he has a right to tort damages, and that defendant is civilly liable for his alleged injuries.

A plaintiff cannot pursue a tort action against a defendant if they have an employer-employee relationship. Whether a claimant may pursue a tort action, or is confined to workers’ compensation proceedings depends on whether the acts complained of were normally within an employer-employee relationship.

An employee is: every person in the service of an employer under any appointment or contract of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed.

In determining whether an employment relationship exists: any person rendering service for another, other than as an independent contractor is presumed to be an employee. The most important element in an employer-employee relationship is the alleged employer’s control over the alleged employee with respect to the means and manner in which he is performing the job.

For example, an employer-employee relationship existed between plaintiff and defendant if plaintiff provided services to defendant as a laborer. Defendant had exercised its right to direct and control the mode and manner plaintiff did his work. When defendant did not like the way plaintiff completed a task, defendant’s supervisors would instruct plaintiff as to the correct procedure. When Plaintiff finished an assignment, defendant’s supervisors would direct plaintiff to his next assignment.

When an employer-employee relationship exists between plaintiff and defendant, plaintiff may not pursue a tort action against defendant, and is confined to workers’ compensation for his alleged injuries. Because plaintiff’s injuries are compensatable under worker’s compensation, his right to recover benefits provided by workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy against defendant.

Liability for workers’ compensation shall, without regard to negligence, exist against an employer for any injury sustained by his or her employees arising out of and in the course of employment. This means that an employer, whether it is negligent or not, has to pay for any injuries that its employees sustain in the course of their duties.

The right to recover workers’ compensation is the sole and exclusive remedy of the employee. This means that an insured employer is not liable for its employees’ industrial injuries under general tort principles. An injured employee’s only remedy is a claim for workers’ compensation.

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