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Four exceptions to the ‘exclusive remedy’ doctrine

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2021 | Worker's Compensation

When you are injured on the job in general you will be compensated through the state workers’ compensation system. In fact, in most cases workers’ compensation is the “exclusive remedy” available following a workplace injury. This means that in exchange for covering your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses incurred due to your injury you are not allowed to sue your employer for your injury. However, in Massachusetts there are some exceptions to the exclusive remedy doctrine.

Exception 1: dual capacity

In states that permit recovery for dual capacity an employer must provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees who suffer an on-the-job injury. However, if a worker is injured by a product manufactured by the employer that worker may be able to pursue a lawsuit against their employer. This is known as dual capacity. Massachusetts is one of several states that provides an exception from the exclusive remedy doctrine for dual capacity.

Exception 2: violation of state and federal employment laws

State and federal laws protect workers from discrimination in the workplace and provide workplace safety standards. If an employer violates one of these laws and this violation leads to a workplace injury the injured worker may be able to pursue a legal claim against the employer. Some examples of federal laws that employers must follow include the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws and regulations.

Exception 3: noninjury torts

Sometimes an employee is injured on the job, but the injury is not physical in nature. Some examples of such injuries include defamation, false arrest and malicious prosecution. If an employer injures an employee’s persona, rather than the person physically, they may be held liable for their actions.

Exception 4: employer misconduct

Sometimes an employer intentionally commits an act of “serious and willful misconduct” that ultimately causes a workplace injury. In such situations the employee may be eligible for double benefits. In addition, employees who are injured due to intentional misconduct may be able to pursue a separate lawsuit.

Learn more about the exclusive remedy doctrine

These are only some examples of exceptions from the exclusive remedy doctrine. There may be others not discussed in this post. Our firm’s webpage on the exclusive remedy doctrine in Massachusetts may be a useful resource for those who want further information on this topic.