Category Archives: workplace-injury

NFL Concussion Suits Barred by “Exclusive Remedy”? Why can’t I sue my employer?

Today’s post comes from guest author Tom Domer from The Domer Law Firm.

We get calls every day from angry injured workers who want to sue their employer for negligence. It could be an employer removing a guard on a machine, a foreman ignoring a safety rule, or an injury caused by an employer’s failure to train an employee. Many employees are genuinely and bitterly disappointed when we explain a worker cannot sue his employer for negligence and that his only “exclusive” remedy is through worker’s compensation. In liability suits filed by hundreds of former pro football players who suffer from concussion-related injuries, the players claim the league negligently mislead them about the dangers of concussions. Attorneys for the injured players indicate it is likely the NFL will argue that football players should be covered exclusively by worker’s compensation.

The deal cut by employers and workers in Wisconsin in 1911 still stands: Employers give up the right to common law defenses (contributory and co-employee negligence, assumption of risk) for a fixed schedule of benefits; employees give up the right to sue their employer in tort (and to recover tort-like damages) in return for worker’s compensation benefits. No matter how nefarious the employer or how egregious the employer’s behavior (i.e., removing the guard to increase machine speed, etc.), the Exclusive Remedy provision applies.

However, claims against third parties (someone other than the employer) are still available to workers if the injury was caused by the negligence of someone other than the employer. In the NFL claims, for example, a helmet manufacturer Riddell is also a named party. Since Riddell was not an employer, that tort suit against the third party should be able to proceed despite the exclusive remedy of worker’s compensation. Most States, like Wisconsin, have a formula for paying back worker’s compensation if the employee succeeds in recovering against the third party.

Unsafe Workplaces Equal More Injuries.

Today’s post comes from guest author Tom Domer from The Domer Law Firm.

Washington State has a similar program for filing claims of discrimination when a worker is punished for reporting unsafe work conditions. Contact one of us to discuss your case if you have suffered such discrimination.

The connection between unsafe workplaces and the increased frequency of work injuries seems like a no brainer. A study released by NCCI Holdings indicated worker’s compensation claims rose by 3% during 2010 (the first rise in frequency in over a dozen years). The study attributed the increased frequency to several factors

Because of these repeat violations,OSHA cited United Contracting and placed the firm on its “Severe Violator Enforcement Program”

including increases in employment since the onset of the recession in 2008, workers possibly being less fearful of losing their jobs for filing claims, and a lack of light duty jobs to which injured workers could return because of the poor economy.

One factor not referenced is the connection between increasingly unsafe work environments and work injuries. Two recent news stories in Wisconsin underscored this connection. OSHA fined a Wisconsin contractor $150,000

for violations while working on two bridges along highways in Wisconsin. The violation is more alarming because the contractors were working under a State contract to repaint the bridges. OSHA charged that the company did not have proper scaffolding at the bridges exposing workers to falls, and in fact one worker was injured in June after falling from a scaffold at one of the bridges. Because of these repeat violations, Continue reading Unsafe Workplaces Equal More Injuries.