Under current workers' compensation laws, employees who are injured while performing work-related activities are fully or partially compensated by their employer for the injuries they sustained and the expenses of their recovery. In return, employees are not allowed to sue their employer. But what if the employee that was injured was a contracted employee?
That is currently the situation in which American Plant Services employee Quindon Thomas finds himself. While working for American Plant Services, he was contracted to work at the oil industry giant Chevron's plant in Pascagoula. While working at the plant, he sustained serious injuries. Because he was operating as a contractor on Chevron's property, his legal case may change how contracted employees can legally interact with their employers.
Current workers' compensation laws
As previously stated, current workers' compensation laws prevent employees from suing their employer while still being provided with workers' compensation. However, Quindon Thomas was working as a contractor for a separate company in addition to being employed by American Plant Services.
Chevron paid for both the insurance policies that covered the American Plant Services employees and for the workers' compensation claim submitted by Mr. Thomas. According to Thomas' lawyer, Thomas should have the right to sue Chevron not for their workers' compensation, but for the safety of the working conditions.
It is generally the case that the vast majority of entities cannot avoid liability for injuries that occurred on their property due to hazardous conditions which they should have prevented. The main exceptions to these regulations are the properties belonging to local, state and federal government agencies. Chevron, however, is a public company.
As it stands, the courts are currently in favor of Chevron's argument, which is that by hiring American Plant Services, they should legally be considered a general contractor and therefore be immune from suing. Thomas' lawyer, however, says that Chevron is attempting to limit his rights.
These types of legal situations can involve many types of law and quickly become very complex. Even so, their rulings could have a significant impact on the way in which companies are able to conduct their business with contracted employees. If you find yourself in a similar situation or suspect that you will, it is recommended that you obtain the services of a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional.