The 5 exceptions to California's workers’ compensation exclusive remedy rule


Workers’ compensation exclusive remedy rule

Workers’ compensation laws in California provide benefits for individuals who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses, regardless of fault. These benefits are critical, as they compensate workers for the medical care they need and the wages they lose. In exchange for giving workers the right to no-fault benefits, the law generally prohibits them from also filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employers. This means that workers’ compensation is intended to be the exclusive remedy for injured workers to seek financial recovery for their injuries.

Like most laws, however, there are some exceptions to this exclusive remedy rule. Specifically, there are five instances in which workers might be able to step outside the workers’ compensation coverage to obtain additional compensation for their injuries.

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Why file an injury claim?

Workers’ compensation does provide helpful benefits for medical treatment and lost wages. However, it does not provide compensation for pain and suffering and other intangible losses. That type of compensation is only available through an injury claim. If you sustained a catastrophic or life-threatening injury or illness on the job, you can experience significant intangible losses. By having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer evaluate your situation and determine if you qualify for one of these 5 exceptions, you can ensure that you receive the full compensation to which you are entitled under California law.

Exemptions to California's workers' compensation exclusive remedy rule

Below, we review these 5 exceptions and how they work. To discuss your specific situation, please call us at (213) 568-4000 for a free case evaluation. Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers in Los Angeles, CA can review the details of your case with you and determine if you qualify for one of these exceptions.

1. Intentional Acts

If your employer assaults you or otherwise intentionally causes harm to you, it creates an exception. You can file a personal injury claim against your employer.

2. Lack of workers’ compensation coverage

California law requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, which is what provides benefits to workers following an injury or illness. If your employer does not have this coverage, your right to sue is not withheld, and you can seek compensation through a civil claim.

In addition, some employers try to classify workers as independent contractors to avoid having to cover them in the event of a work-related injury. If this is the case, you can file an injury lawsuit against the company to recoup your losses.

3. Fraudulent concealment

Employers are expected to meet certain safety standards to keep employees as safe as possible on the job. If your employer knows of a dangerous condition, but conceals it and puts employees at risk of harm, they can be liable for your losses in court. An example is when an employer knows that certain chemicals are toxic and can cause illness, but hides this from employees to keep them working. This is why many workers with mesothelioma can file injury lawsuits against employers that knowingly exposed them to asbestos.

4. Dual capacity

Workers’ compensation provides benefits for employees who are injured in the course of their employment. However, sometimes, people sustain injuries in the workplace when they are off the clock. For example, if you are an employee of a grocery store, and you slip and fall due to a hazardous condition while you are working, you would need to seek benefits through workers’ compensation. On the other hand, if you are shopping at the grocery store as a customer on your day off, and you slip and fall and fracture your hip, you can file an injury claim just like any other customer. In this type of situation, the claim is against your employer, but it does not involve a job-related injury.

5. Power presses

Many manufacturing plants use power presses, and some companies might alter the power press to make it more efficient, yet less safe. If the safety guard was removed or another risky alteration was made, and you were injured while operating the power press, you can file an injury lawsuit.

Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Los Angeles to review your options

Workers’ compensation claims can be more complex than you might imagine. Sometimes, your claim might be denied, your benefits might be less than you deserve, or the insurance company might cut off your benefits too soon. It is important to consult with a Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer who can protect your rights. For a free consultation with the attorneys at Blair & Ramirez LLP, call (213) 568-4000 or contact us online today.
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