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Is workers’ compensation the sole remedy available to an injured worker?

Monday, March 7, 2016

The workers’ compensation system is an important financial resource available to workers, and those who have been injured on the job should always apply to ensure they receive why they are entitled to under workers’ compensation law. This is especially the case because, in most cases, workers’ compensation benefits are the sole remedy available to workers injured on the job.

The rationale behind the sole or exclusive remedy rule is that workers benefit from the workers’ compensation system in that they are assured of compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses without the costs, hassle and uncertainty of the court system. Employers, for their part, are assured that injured workers will not pursue liability in court when they accept workers’ compensation benefits. This exchange is at the heart of the workers’ compensation system. 

Most states do acknowledge certain exceptions to the sole remedy rule. Under New York’s workers’ compensation statute, exceptions are allowed for cases where the employer failed to secure and/or maintain workers’ compensation insurance as required by law, and cases involving intentional torts. This includes cases where a worker is injured by assault, battery, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment.

The New York court system has dealt with various challenges to the exclusive remedy rule, and exceptions outside those provided for by state statute have generally been unsuccessful. Workers who are injured on the job by what they believe to be the intentional actions of their employer should always consult with an experienced attorney right away. In our next post, we’ll say more about this issue. 

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