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New Law Offers ‘Exclusive Remedy Doctrine’ for Injured WI Temp Workers

Friday, March 9, 2018
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On February 28th, Governor Scott Walker signed into a law Senate Bill 781 which addresses a recent Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruling.

This past January, a Wisconsin Appellate Court ruled in Re the Estate of Carlos Esterley Cerrato Rivera, No. 2017AP142 (Jan. 9, 2018, https://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=206844)  that temporary employees who are injured while working may bring a tort lawsuit against their temporary employer.  In doing so, the Appellate Court significantly broadened the scope of potential tort liability for employers by holding that claiming benefits under Wisconsin’s Workers’ Compensation Act is no longer the exclusive remedy for a temporary employee injured on the job. 

According to Scott Walker’s Office of the Governor website, in February, the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council unanimously passed a motion to support AB-884 / Senate Bill 781 to clarify the legislative intent to extend exclusive remedy protection to worksite employers. SB 781 reinforces the exclusive remedy doctrine, (which says that an injured employee’s recovery of compensation under the Worker’s Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy against the employer, any other employee of the same employer and the worker’s compensation insurance carrier) by providing temporary help employees, and loaned and leased employees the right to recover worker’s compensation benefits from their employer for work-related injuries.

When Governor Walker signed SB-781 (known as Act 139) into law, this bill eliminates the right of action in tort by an injured employee against certain third parties by reason of the injury if the injured employee has the right to make a claim for compensation against his or her employer under the worker’s compensation law

It is critical for employers working with temp staffing firms to have strong contracts in place with proper contractual risk transfer provisions in place. Your insurance broker should be able to supply you with the appropriate language.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.