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Liability Beyond Workers’ Compensation

Written by Ankin Law Office

Employees who are injured in workplace accidents often mistakenly think that their only remedy is workers’ compensation. Under the exclusive remedy doctrine, when an employee is injured in a workplace accident, the employer’s liability is often limited to those benefits that are payable under the state’s worker’s compensation, which is frequently limited to lost wages and medical benefits. In return for workers’ compensation benefits, employer’s were granted immunity from claims of negligence for their role in the workplace accident.

Insurance companies have begun to expand their standard workers’ compensation policies beyond the scope of statutory workers’ compensation benefits, however. Many workers’ compensation policies now have two parts: Part One,  which is often referred to as Coverage A, and  Part Two, which is often referred to as Coverage B.

Part One provides workers’ compensation coverage or those benefits that an employer is required to pay under state law. There is typically no limit to this coverage and the insurer will pay all compensation and medical benefits that the employer is legally required to cover under the state workers’ compensation laws.

Part Two provides employer liability coverage. Part Two provides coverage in the event that the employer is obligated to pay damages due to bodily injury by accident or disease, if the medical condition arises out of and in the course of employment and if there is a legal theory for recovery beyond the scope of the state workers’ compensation statutes. For example, Part Two coverage may apply to lawsuits filed by an employee against a third party whom the employer has agreed to hold harmless pursuant to an agreement.

Part Two coverage may also apply in situations where an employee is injured by a product that his or her employer manufactures. For instance, if  an employee is injured by a tool that his or her employer manufactures during the scope of employment, he or she may be entitled to both workers’ compensation benefits and product liability compensation.

Employer liability beyond the scope of workers’ compensation benefits is a complicated area of the law, with several nuances and tricky legal issues. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you should consult with a knowledgeable Illinois workers’ compensation attorney like the attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC so that you better understand your legal rights and remedies.