Posted by Del on January 20, 1999 at 14:18:33:
Exclusive Remedy is a very complex issue but I have studied it in detail. In short it involves this:
The worker's compensation system was designed to replace the civil lawsuit as the means of recovering damages for work-related injuries. Worker's compensation is the employee's "exclusive remedy" against the employer where there is personal injury or death by accident arising out of and in the course of employment. In other words, if there is personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, the employee must pursue any claim against the employer through the worker's compensation system.
This issue is being hotly debated in several states. In Oregon a worker cannot go outside the comp system unless they can prove their injury was the direct result of an employer targeting them specificly for their exact injury. If an employer has also put all other employees in harms way that could cause a similar injury they are protected from lawsuits even if they were in violation of safety laws. There was at least one state court decision that confirmed this.
What I find insulting in all this is that Oregon state government has through its actions supported the status quo "Exclusive Remedy" which in every way benefits employers.
We elect legislators and the governor and expect them to "protect" their citizens. Their taking a side "unoffiicially" that forces a worker no choice but a "very one-sided" workers compensation system only reinforces the idea that government is not living up to its obligation to "serve and protect". Perhaps they meant only employers but leave that out for obvious reasons.
I do believe that the overiding concern of injured workers is not Exclusive Remedy but instead to actually receive timely and thurough treatment for their injuries, something difficult to get due to comp carrier strategy. MANY injured workers I've met have told me they they don't care about money but just want the best possible medical treatment without years of delays the carriers force upon them and state government laws that give the carriers very wide latitude in their behavior toward workers.
Well, that's my two-cents.
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