Workers’ Compensation Review: Dual Employment

Workers’ Compensation Review: Dual Employment

State and Federal workers’ compensation laws were created to allow injured workers to be able to obtain necessary medical treatment for their injuries as soon as possible after an accident in the workplace.  The compromise that these laws force workers to accept, except in a few special cases, is that the worker’s claim must be processed through the workers’ compensation system rather than through a traditional lawsuit.  This compromise has brought about a unique body of law in workers’ compensation that is largely applicable only in this same field, which means that workers’ compensation is now quite the specialty.  With that being the case, there are many aspects of workers’ compensation that are not typically seen in other employment-related contexts.  One such oddity is with regard to dual employment issues.  When someone is injured in the workplace, their employer is generally liable for providing the employee with benefits pursuant to workers’ compensation laws.  When that employee is employed by two separate employers, the issue of who pays becomes more complicated.

Two employers, double the recovery?

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on which side you are on, workers’ compensation laws were not created to provide an injured worker with more than he or she is entitled to, even in the event of dual employment.  When an employee has valid employment contracts with two separate employers, only one of the employers will typically be held be liable for the workers’ compensation coverage.  It is in determining which employer’s insurance applies from which much of the litigation in this area arises.  The first inquiry that should be made is to discover which employer the employee was working for at the time of the accident.  Sometimes this inquiry is simple, as the employee’s dual employment situation deals with two separate locations, supervisors, and type of work.  Other factors can complicate this analysis, however.  For example, in a construction setting, where an employee is hired by a subcontractor to perform work at one worksite, the contractor who hired the subcontractor may be held liable for workers’ compensation coverage if the subcontractor does not have such coverage.  Taking the example further, a contractor may also be liable for a subcontractor’s employee if the contractor directly supervised the employee on a shared worksite, and/or directed the employee to perform the task that led to the injury.

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The Help of an Attorney is Often Necessary

These questions are not always easy to answer, and depending on the outcome can cost one employer or the other thousands of dollars in workers’ compensation benefits, lost work time, and other damages.  Any delay in determining liability may also mean a delay in providing full treatment for the employee, and preventing him or her from returning to work in a timely manner.  If you or someone you know has been injured in the workplace and has questions about recovering workers’ compensation benefits, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.  Our professionals can provide you information on your claim as well as options for moving forward.


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