We’ve been looking in recent posts about employer responsibilities, and employee rights, when it comes to workplace accidents. These responsibilities include OSHA regulations and penalties, as well as workers’ compensation insurance responsibilities.
For injured employers who work in maritime occupations, such as longshore workers, ship-repairers and builders, and harbor construction works, there is also the ability to obtain workers compensation from the federal Department of Labor under the Longshore and Workers’ Compensation Act. The law provides for payment of medical care, compensation and vocational rehabilitation for employees who have been disabled due to their work in the maritime industry. Asbestos exposure is part of the law’s coverage. The Jones Act is another nontort avenue of compensation for certain maritime workers who may have been exposed to asbestos. .
It is important for injured employees to be informed of their compensation rights under state workers’ compensation law, as well as federal law, but it is also worth noting that there are some circumstances where workers may be able to bring a tort action against an employer to see compensation outside the workers’ compensation system. Different states have different exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule.
Here in Louisiana, the courts have recognized several possible exceptions to the rule. One exception is situations where the employer acted with willful intent to injure an employee. Willful intent is not easy to prove, though, and this exception is reserved for very few cases. Cases in which an employee is injured by the reckless or negligent actions of an employer would not qualify for this exception. Other exceptions include cases involving intoxication or a physical aggressor in an unprovoked altercation. These exceptions are limited, and are not likely to come up in the context of asbestos exposure, but it is certainly possible.
Whenever a worker is injured on the job, it is critical to be informed of one’s legal rights and to have assistance seeking out compensation wherever appropriate. Working with an experienced attorney helps ensure that a worker’s interests will be strongly advocated.
Source: American Bar Association, “The Exclusive Remedy Provision: State-by-State Survey, Randall et al., 2009.