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Workers’ Compensation Act Protects Louisiana Employees Injured on Job

If you ever become injured in a work-related accident in Louisiana, or if you become ill with an occupation-related condition, workers’ compensation can help cover your expenses while you seek the treatment and take the time off that you need.

The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act is a piece of legislation that details the rules and regulations of Workers’ Compensation in the state of Louisiana. Specifically, the Act provides for compensation if an employee sustains a personal injury in an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. Much like any other legal document or piece of legislation, it is best interpreted by trained and qualified legal representation.

In Harvey v. Brown, the Second Circuit Court of the State of Louisiana recently examined the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act in the context of whether an employee/employer relationship existed and, if so, whether the injury arose out of and in the course of this employment. On October 8, 2009, McNeil C. Harvey died when a piece of farm equipment he was working under fell and crush him. Subsequently, his daughter, Valerie Harvey filed a suit seeking survivor’s damages and wrongful death damages against Joseph Patten Brown, Jr., Gailliard Farms, Inc., and Gailliard Gin, Inc. According to Valerie Harvey, the accident was caused by the parties’ negligence in: (1) exposing McNeil to ultra hazardous perils; (2) assigning McNeil to work outside the course and scope of his employment; and (3) other fault and negligence to be discovered. Moreover, Valerie Harvey added MAPP, Inc. as an additional defendant and claimed that MAPP was negligent for the same reasons as the original defendants.

Both Galliard Farms and Gaillard Gin filed a motion for summary judgment and argued that there existed no basis for liability against them since neither entity had operated since 2001. Further, Brown and MAPP claimed that McNeil died in the course and scope of his employment with MAPP, thus making MAPP immune from tort liability, leaving Ms. Harvey’s with the sole remedy of a workers’ compensation claim. After the trial court dismissed all of Ms. Harvey’s claims against Brown and MAPP, she appealed.

According to Kelly v. CAN Ins. Co., “except for intentional acts, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for work-related injuries and illnesses.” Furthermore, “[t]he exclusive remedy provision of Louisiana’s workers’ compensation statute precludes an employee from filing a lawsuit for damages against “his employer, or any principal or any officer, director, stockholder, partner, or employee of such employer or principal.” Accordingly, when an employer invokes the immunity of a statutory employer under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act, it has the burden of proving this immunity.
In deciding that trial court’s decision was proper, the Circuit Court, on appeal, determined that the evidence showed that McNeil was employed by MAPP and that he was performing employment duties on the date of the accident. Unfortunately, Ms. Harvey failed to refute this evidence and the court decided that MAPP and Brown (as an office of MAPP) were immune from liability.

If you have been injured on the job, please call the Berniard Law Firm to ask an attorney what your rights are in the workplace. Our attorneys have experience navigating this tricky distinction to ensure that you receive every dollar that you are owed.

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