Exclusive Remedy Rule Law & Legal Definition


Exclusive remedy provisions of workers' compensation statutes protect employers from common law suits by employees to recover for work-related injuries. All states have incorporated an exclusive remedy provision into their workers' compensation statute. Workers' compensation laws apply only to work-related injuries. Workers' compensation statutes in most states limit a worker's remedies for work-related injuries to a workers' compensation claim against the employer. This statutory scheme results from a compromise whereby both employers and employees give up certain advantages in return for others. Employers trade liability, regardless of fault, for protection from large tort awards, and employees surrender a cause of action in return for swift but limited financial benefits. These limited benefits are the exclusive remedy for injured workers against their employers. Several courts have carved out exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule that have allowed workers to recover more from employers than merely the statutorily prescribed benefits. One such exception, the dual capacity doctrine, releases an employee from the exclusive remedy rule by allowing an employee to sue the employer acting in a third party capacity, such as manufacturer or lessor of workplace products or provider of medical services.