In workers’ compensation cases, part of what employees gave up in the “grand bargain” for no-fault benefits for workplace injuries and illnesses was the right to sue their employer for negligence. That means even if a worker would likely have received more compensation as a result of a personal injury negligence lawsuit, the employee can’t sue the company so long as the injury is covered under workers’ compensation laws.
Co-workers also are protected under this provision, and workers can’t sue them, even if their negligence caused or contributed to the accident.
But sometimes the question of who is “co-worker” – particularly on a construction site – can get tricky. That’s because there may be a number of different contractor and subcontractors, and some may under state law be extended protection under the exclusive remedy provision. It’s important to differentiate because when one can take action against a third party, recovery in addition to workers’ compensation may be obtained.
This was the issue in the recent case of TIC Energy & Chem, Inc. v. Martin, recently before the Texas Supreme Court. Of course, it’s important to point out that case law varies from state-to-state, but this case outlines situations we see crop up in North Carolina cases too. Continue reading