There are a number of reasons on why we have workers’ compensation law. It is ultimately there to protect the rights of the employee when they are injured on the job. It helps make sure that their medical and financial needs are met to make sure that they can recover in peace knowing that their needs will be met even though they are having to miss work.
The Legislative Intent
According to Oxner + Permar, LLC., workers’ compensation is a no fault system of social legislation designed to protect employees. It is designed to provide compensation for disability and to cover any injury-related medical care. Injured employees give up their right to sue the employer in court for an injury that occurred at work. In return for giving up that right, an injured employee is restricted to workers’ compensation benefits in the regardless of fault. That’s called the sole and exclusive remedy rule.
The Sole and Exclusive Remedy Rule
Exceptions to the sole and exclusive remedy rule exist. If the roofer was knocked off of that roof by a lift owned and operated by an independent supplier of materials like a shingle supplier, he could then file his own independent lawsuit in court against the shingle supplier and its employee. Since broader damages including pain and suffering and loss of a normal life are available in a court of law than in a workers’ compensation case, the injured roofer is likely to receive significantly higher compensation for his injuries in that court of law. This type of accident falls under the third party liability exception to workers’ compensation being the roofer’s exclusive remedy
The Workers’ Compensation Lien
It might seem unfair that a worker could file a workers’ compensation claim plus a lawsuit at the same time, but it really isn’t. The law provides that any sums paid out by the workers’ compensation insurer must be reimbursed from any sums derived in the third party personal injury lawsuit. Double dipping just isn’t allowed. The law doesn’t allow two financial recoveries for one injury.
If that roofer fell off of the roof through his own negligence, he’s covered under workers’ compensation. If he fell as a result of the negligence of the lift driver, he can still file for workers’ compensation and file an independent lawsuit too. Whatever the workers’ compensation insurer pays out must be reimbursed from the proceeds of the third party case. It’s all fair and equitable.