Employee gets WC Benefits – But “Employer” isn’t the employer?

Plaintiff was a carpenter hired through his union to work at a school construction project. He sustained injuries when a six-foot-long metal object he was holding overhead electrical wires. He was provided worker’s compensation benefits, indicating that the defendant subcontractor was his employer. However, his wages for the project, as well as W-2 information came from another construction firm.
He then filed a negligence action against multiple defendants, including the subcontractor from whom he recovered workers’ compensation benefits. The defendant subcontractor filed a motion for summary judgment, contending the action was barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the workers’ compensation law. The motion was denied. The appellate court affirmed, finding that the subcontractor’s evidence, including the deposition testimony of its president, revealed that there were issues of fact as to the actual identity of the carpenter’s employer. The administrative finding that the injured carpenter was entitled to recover compensation benefits from the subcontractor was not conclusive proof that he was employed by them.

Greg Lois is the managing partner of LOIS LLC, a 19-attorney law firm dedicated to defending employers and carriers in New York and New Jersey workers' compensation claims. Greg is the author of a popular series of "Handbooks" on workers' compensation, and is the co-author of the 2016 Lexis-Nexis New Jersey Workers' Compensation Practice Guide. Greg can be reached at 201-880-7213 or glois@lois-llc.com