Anyone who sustains an injury on the job in Delaware or contracts an occupational disease should be learning about options for seeking workers’ compensation benefits in order to cover medical bills and lost wages, and to compensate for temporary and permanent disabilities. If you begin researching the workers’ compensation process in Delaware, you might learn that workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy. What is an exclusive remedy, and what do you need to know about your ability to obtain compensation for your on-the-job injury or illness? Our Wilmington workers’ compensation attorneys have information to help you as you plan to file your workers’ compensation claim.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation as an Exclusive Remedy
Under Delaware law, similar to most other states, workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy. The statute reads:
“Every employer and employee, adult and minor, except as expressly excluded in this chapter, shall be bound by this chapter respectively to pay and to accept compensation for personal injury or death by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, regardless of the question of negligence and to the exclusion of all other rights and remedies.”
What is an exclusive remedy and what does the language of the statute mean? In short, workers’ compensation is the sole way in which an injured worker can obtain compensation unless an exception applies. To be clear, any medical coverage or payments through the workers’ compensation system are the exclusive remedy for an injured worker, which means the worker cannot file a negligence claim against an employer if the employer’s negligence resulted in the injury.
Exceptions to the Exclusive Remedy
When is workers’ compensation not an exclusive remedy, and what are the exceptions that can allow an injured worker to file a lawsuit in order to seek financial compensation for workplace injuries? Generally speaking, for any injury resulting from negligence within the workplace (as a result of the employer’s negligence, a co-worker’s negligence, or even the injured worker’s own negligence), workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy.
However, in circumstances where a third party’s negligence or liability results in a worker’s injury, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against that third party. For example, if a defective tool or machine being used in the workplace causes the worker’s injury, the worker could be eligible to file a lawsuit against the designer, manufacturer, or retailer of the defective product. Or, for example, if a motorist causes an accident on the highway that results in a roadside construction worker getting injured on the job, that construction worker could be eligible to sue the negligent motorist in addition to seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
Intentional tortious conduct is also an exception. For instance, if an employer assaults an employee on the job, the injured employee could be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against the employer.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Delaware
Do you need assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, or do you have questions? One of our Delaware workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you today. Contact Freibott Law online or call us in Wilmington: (302) 633-9000.