Workers compensation laws are put in place to protect employees who sustain an injury while on the job. These laws provide coverage for medical bills and other relevant expenses as a result of that injury. However, not all workers compensation laws are equal in each state.
In 46 states, a coworker receives immunity from being named in a lawsuit that an injured worker may bring as a result of an on-the-job injury. As long as the coworker is acting within the normal course and scope of the job, an injured employee can take no legal action.
There are four states, however, that do not grant coworkers immunity protection when working with someone who becomes injured while at work. In the following four states, coworkers of an injured worker may be sued by that injured worker:
A workers compensation case in Maryland further illustrates how this law works. An employee sustained an injury upon being struck by a vehicle that a supervisor was driving. The accident took place in the company warehouse, where the supervisor was bringing a customer’s car into a parking bay for maintenance work. Other cars obscured the supervisor’s vision, which resulted in the supervisor striking the employee as he pulled the car into the parking spot.
In all but the above listed states, the supervisor would not be liable for the medical bills and other relevant costs the employee sustains. However, the state of Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals found that the supervisor was as liable as the company. Therefore, the supervisor could be sued personally for the accident.
Employers operating a business in one of these four states need to make their employees aware of the fact that they can be personally responsible should a fellow coworker sustain an on-the-job injury. Self-interest works as an excellent motivating tool for employees to maintain a stricter adherence to the safety policies set forth by an employer.