By Alex Barthet
Primeco, which had a contract with the FDOT to maintain certain roads, subcontracted some of its work to Otherco. Both Primeco’s and Otherco’s contracts required that they secure workers’ compensation insurance.
Otherco hired Smith to assist in the work, and Smith in turn hired a number of day laborers, including Able. Able was seriously hurt when hot tar spilled on him. Neither Primeco nor Otherco reported this claim.
Able subsequently filed suit against Otherco and Primeco instead of asserting a claim for workers’ compensation. Otherco settled but Primeco responded that it was immune from such a suit because it had already done all it legally needed to do. The court agreed. The applicable statute only requires an employer to obtain and maintain workers’ compensation benefits; it does not impose a duty on the contractor to actually pay benefits to an injured employee. Having secured workers’ compensation coverage, and having required Otherco to obtain coverage for its workers, Primeco was in fact immune from suit by an injured employee of Otherco. Workers’ compensation was Able’s exclusive remedy in this situation.