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Injured workers: explore means of recovery outside workers’ compensation system

The workers’ compensation system is built on an exchange of sorts. The exchange is that workers implicitly agree to give up their right to sue their employer when they are injured on the job in exchange for the right to receive no-fault compensation in the event of a work-related accident or illness.

An inevitable aspect of this exchange is that workers will not always receive the extent of compensation they might receive if they pursued litigation, but they also don’t have to pay the costs and endure the uncertainty of pursuing such litigation. Generally speaking, worker’s compensation benefits are the sole remedy injured workers have, though there are certain exceptions.

One such exception is when an employee is injured in the course of work which involves sister and parent corporations. This can happen, for example, in contracting work when there are multiple companies involved in worksite maintenance and provision of equipment. In such cases, an injured worker may have the ability to sue entities which are not his or her employer under a theory of vicarious liability.

The types of claims that could potentially arise against a sister or parent company are varied, but include things like product liability, negligent maintenance or repair, negligence in maintaining a safe work environment, and so on. Such claims fall outside the workers’ compensation system, which would be the injured employee’s means of recovery from his or her own employer.

Whenever workplace injury does occur, it is important for a worker not only to have guidance navigating the workers’ compensation system, but also to look into other available means of recovery. When additional means of compensation are possible, it is important to have guidance and advocacy pursuing them. 

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