Exceptions to the Exclusive Remedy Rule

Posted on November 19, 2020

Under certain conditions where the exclusive remedy rule does not apply, an injured worker can file a civil claim against an employer.

Understanding the Exclusive Remedy Rule

Under state workers’ compensation laws, injured workers are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits through their employers for work-related injuries. Such benefits cover medical expenses for injuries, lost wages from time away from work, and temporary or permanent disability payments. Workers’ compensation claims require no proof of fault, as long as injuries happened during the course of a worker’s regular job duties.

Workers’ compensation insurance policies contain an “exclusive remedy” provision that prohibits a worker from filing a lawsuit against his or her employer, as long as they are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. The exclusive remedy rule protects employers from personal liability for work-related injuries. However, there is an exception to the exclusive remedy rule when work-related injuries are caused by third parties outside of the workplace and the employer’s control. If work-related injuries involve third-party claims, an injured worker is permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit with a Chicago workers compensation lawyer in civil court.

A civil claim filed against an employer often involves negligent actions on the employer’s part. When negligence causes injuries, there are 5 exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule for legal actions against an employer:

  • Dual capacity
  • Fraudulent concealment
  • Employer assault or ratification
  • Power press
  • Uninsured employer

If one of these exceptions applies, an injured worker has the right to file a civil lawsuit for personal injuries in conjunction with a workers compensation claim filed through the employer. However, the employer is entitled to a credit against the civil judgment or workers’ compensation settlement for any compensation already paid through workers’ compensation benefits. This prevents double recovery for damages.

In most cases, civil lawsuits for personal injury claims are resolved through settlement agreements usually negotiated between an insurance company and a Chicago workers compensation lawyer. If an injured worker wins his or her case, he or she can recover compensation for existing medical costs, future medical costs, existing lost wages, future lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life caused by injuries. Although settlement awards may have higher payouts for injuries, an injured worker must show proof of employer negligence to the court. Workers’ compensation claims may have lower injury payouts, but the proof is not necessary, even if the employer is at fault.