You may need to obtain temporary workers from an employment agency. In New Bedford, MA, the employment agency is considered the workers’ employer. This means that the agency is responsible for insuring their workers under a workers compensation policy. You can save a lot of money in workers compensation premiums through such an arrangement. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that temporary workers cannot sue you for personal injury.
Can a Temporary Employee Sue You For Injuries Sustained at Work?
The short answer is yes; you could be held liable for any injuries that temporary employees suffer working for you. This means that both the employment agency and you as the employer have the same responsibility of protecting your employees.
When you hire a temporary worker employed by a temporary agency, that agency has purchased a temporary workers policy to cover its employees against accidents. However, your company might not be covered under the policy.
By definition, the temporary worker is not your employee but they can sue you under the company’s general liability policy.
It’s very important that you consult a workers compensation lawyer to ensure that you have the right liability insurance and to get advice on how to limit your liability in order to protect your company.
Your workers compensation lawyer can help you draft and review contracts with temporary employment agencies. There are two ways that you can go about drafting and reviewing the contracts:
- Your lawyer will request the temporary employment agency to include a clause in the contract that states the agency will take full responsibility for workers compensation claims in the event that a temporary workers is injured while working for you.
- Your lawyer can also request the temporary employment agency to employer agreement rider on its workers compensation policy. This might be a little pricy for the agency but your company will be protected under the policy.
You should never assume that the temporary agency will automatically assume responsibility for workers compensation claims of temporary workers. Always review agency contracts and consult a lawyer before signing any contracts.
How Alternate Employer Endorsement Can Help if You Hire Temporary Workers
Jane Doe owns a small company called Delicacies that manufactures brownies. So far business has been doing well and Jane feels the need to increase production. In order for her to be able to do this, she decides to hire a temporary employee just to see how they perform before hiring them on a permanent basis.
Jane contacts Temporary Works, a company that specializes in hiring out temporary employees to companies. The agency sends John, to work for Jane. Before hiring John, Jane confirmed with Temporary Works that he is covered for any work related injuries under their workers compensation policy.
John works for about a month and an accident happens. He slips and falls while working in the kitchen and he breaks his tailbone. He is hospitalized for a month and receives workers compensation from Temporary Works.
About a year later, John sues Jane for a slip and fall injury claiming that Jane failed to maintain a safe working environment. Jane calls Temporary Works claiming that the lawsuit should be covered under their workers compensation policy. Temporary Works denies coverage claiming that John is not an employee of Delicacies. In fact, he is Temporary Works employee and has already received workers compensation benefits under their policy.
Jane tries to file a claim under her company’s general liability policy but her insurer denies her claim citing that John was not her employee. Jane discovered that under her insurer’s policy definitions, temporary workers are defined as employees who are hired when a permanent employee is on leave or when there are seasonal workloads. John didn’t fit into that description and therefore they will not cover his lawsuit.
Alternate employer endorsement would have worked very well in Jane’s situation because Temporary Works would have been forced to compensate John when he filed the lawsuit. Workers compensation coverage only protect you when you are required to pay benefits to a temporary employee. If you want to be insured against lawsuits brought to you by temporary workers, then the employers liability coverage will insure you.
Alternate employer endorsement does not cover your regular employees so in this case Jane cannot use it to compensate her permanent workers. She has to purchase workers compensation to cover her own employees.
Exclusive Remedy Rule
In New Bedford, MA, workers compensation is the only source of compensation for employees for a work related injury. Workers are not allowed to sue the employer if they are covered under workers compensation.
When you obtain employees from a temporary agency, the worker is not your employee so they can sue you. The good news is that employers liability coverage can protect you against such suits.
Conditions of Coverage
There are certain conditions that you must meet in order for alternate employer endorsement to work. First, you must report any injuries involving your temporary worker to your workers compensation insurer. You must also take the injured worker to hospital to receive treatment and forward all the necessary documents to the insurer.
It Does Not Apply to Leased Workers
Yo cannot insure workers you have leased from a leasing firm under alternate employer endorsements. Leased workers are insured under a different set of endorsements in accordance to Massachusetts state law.
Consulting a Workers Compensation Lawyer in New Bedford
Workers compensation laws can be very complicated. Most of the time, a workplace related injury claim is usually very straight forward. However, there are usually other instances where it’s not as straightforward and conflict arises.
For instance, if you are an employee, your employer might question if you were really injured while on the job, if your injuries are real or if the medical care you received was necessary.
Whether you are an employee or an employer, you might want to hire a workers compensation lawyer if:
- The claim was denied
- The permanent disability rating of the employee is questioned
- A pre-existing condition is brought to light
- An insurance company is preventing your employee from getting treatment
- You are receiving benefits from the government and workers compensation benefits might affect your government benefits
- Your workers compensation case has been taken to court.
Contact any one of our workers compensation lawyers in New Bedford for a free initial consultation at 508-999-0800 today.