Glossary of Business Insurance Terms
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Exclusive remedy

Exclusive remedy is a workers' comp provision that prohibits injured employees from suing their employer if they are receiving workers' comp benefits.

What is exclusive remedy?

The exclusive remedy provision in a workers’ compensation insurance policy states that a worker cannot sue an employer for a work-related injury as long as they are receiving benefits from workers' comp.

The workers' compensation exclusive remedy provision serves as a compromise between employer and employee. Workers are compensated for their medical expenses and receive partial lost wages while they are unable to work, and employers don't have to worry about lawsuits related to employee injuries.

Lawsuits and exclusive remedy

There are some exceptions to the workers' compensation exclusive doctrine that allows employees to sue in certain cases, such as if the employer was negligent or failed to maintain insurance. However, the laws regarding workers' compensation insurance are decided at the state level, and can vary depending on where the business and employees are located.

Some states make it easier for employees to sue their employer in the case of employer misconduct, while other states tend to side more strongly with the employer, making it difficult for employees to sue.

In addition to paying for medical bills and lost wage replacement for injured employees, workers' compensation insurance also includes employer's liability insurance, which can pay for an employer's legal expenses if they are sued for negligence by an injured employee in a case that is not covered by exclusive remedy.

Business owners should talk to their insurance agent to make sure they understand the exclusive remedy rule in their state, and to ensure their workers' comp policy has adequate employer's liability coverage.

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Updated: April 29, 2022

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