As previously discussed in the blog entitled Workers Compensation Insurance published February 1, 2017, workers’ compensation insurance was a bargain between the employers’ like DuPont, Exxon-Mobil, Goodyear or Arkema and the workers, employees and labor unions. The workers’ could literally be injured for any reason including being the only or sole cause of their own injuries and still receive lost wages and medical payments. Regardless of who caused the accident the worker is covered.
Conversely, the employers received a bargain for providing the workers’ compensation insurance. Their benefit of the bargain is that they can never be sued for injuries even if they cause the injuries with ordinary negligence.
Now here is where it gets more complicated. The chemical plants and refineries are protected from being sued for ordinary negligence and. But they are NOT protected from being sued for gross negligence if the worker dies. If the worker does not die, then the EXCLUSIVE REMEDY to the worker is workers’ compensation insurance. Even if the employer commits gross negligence to cause the accident.
So what is the difference? Ordinary negligence is where a person, or in this place a chemical plant or refinery, owes a duty to employees. Such a duty would be having a safe work place; providing safety equipment; preventing dangerous conditions. The workers’ compensation law protects employers from being sued for this kind of negligence, and even for gross negligence as long as the worker does not die.
So the only way an employee or worker’s family can sue chemical plant owners ONLY if they can show the refinery or chemical plant owners committed Gross Negligence and the worker actually dies.
For a discussion on what Gross Negligence is, please see the following blog:
Gross Negligence and Workers’ Compensation