(a) If the injury or death for which compensation is payable under Articles 3 or 4 of this chapter was caused under circumstances also creating a legal liability for damages on the part of any party other than the employer, whether or not the party is subject to this chapter, the employee, or his or her dependents in case of death, may proceed against the employer to recover compensation under this chapter or may agree with the employer upon the compensation payable under this chapter, and at the same time, may bring an action against the other party to recover damages for the injury or death, and the amount of the damages shall be ascertained and determined without regard to this chapter. If a party, other than the employer, is a workers' compensation insurance carrier of the employer or any person, firm, association, trust, fund, or corporation responsible for servicing and payment of workers' compensation claims for the employer, or any officer, director, agent, or employee of the carrier, person, firm, association, trust, fund, or corporation, or is a labor union, or any official or representative thereof, or is a governmental agency providing occupational safety and health services, or an employee of the agency, or is an officer, director, agent, or employee of the same employer, or his or her personal representative, the injured employee, or his or her dependents in the case of death, may bring an action against any workers' compensation insurance carrier of the employer or any person, firm, association, trust, fund, or corporation responsible for servicing and payment of workers' compensation claims for the employer, labor union, or the governmental agency, or person, or his or her personal representative, only for willful conduct which results in or proximately causes the injury or death. If the injured employee, or in case of death, his or her dependents, recovers damages against the other party, the amount of the damages recovered and collected shall be credited upon the liability of the employer for compensation. If the damages recovered and collected are in excess of the compensation payable under this chapter, there shall be no further liability on the employer to pay compensation on account of the injury or death. To the extent of the recovery of damages against the other party, the employer shall be entitled to reimbursement for the amount of compensation theretofore paid on account of injury or death. If the employee who recovers damages is receiving or entitled to receive compensation for permanent total disability, then the employer shall be entitled to reimbursement for the amount of compensation theretofore paid, and the employer's obligation to pay further compensation for permanent total disability shall be suspended for the number of weeks which equals the quotient of the total damage recovery, less the amount of any reimbursement for compensation already paid, divided by the amount of the weekly benefit for permanent total disability which the employee was receiving or to which the employee was entitled. For purposes of this amendatory act, the employer shall be entitled to subrogation for medical and vocational benefits expended by the employer on behalf of the employee; however, if a judgment in an action brought pursuant to this section is uncollectible in part, the employer's entitlement to subrogation for such medical and vocational benefits shall be in proportion to the ratio the amount of the judgment collected bears to the total amount of the judgment.
(b) If personal injury or death to any employee results from the willful conduct, as defined in subsection (c) herein, of any officer, director, agent, or employee of the same employer or any workers' compensation insurance carrier of the employer or any person, firm, association, trust, fund, or corporation responsible for servicing any payment of workers' compensation claims for the employer, or any officer, director, agent, or employee of the carrier, person, firm, association, trust, fund, or corporation, or of a labor union, or an official or representative thereof, the employee shall have a cause of action against the person, workers' compensation carrier, or labor union.
(c) As used herein, “willful conduct” means any of the following:
(1) A purpose or intent or design to injure another; and if a person, with knowledge of the danger or peril to another, consciously pursues a course of conduct with a design, intent, and purpose of inflicting injury, then he or she is guilty of “willful conduct.”
(2) The willful and intentional removal from a machine of a safety guard or safety device provided by the manufacturer of the machine with knowledge that injury or death would likely or probably result from the removal; provided, however, that removal of a guard or device shall not be willful conduct unless the removal did, in fact, increase the danger in the use of the machine and was not done for the purpose of repair of the machine or was not part of an improvement or modification of the machine which rendered the safety device unnecessary or ineffective.
(3) The intoxication of another employee of the employer if the conduct of that employee has wrongfully and proximately caused injury or death to the plaintiff or plaintiff's decedent, but no employee shall be guilty of willful conduct on account of the intoxication of another employee or another person.
(4) Willful and intentional violation of a specific written safety rule of the employer after written notice to the violating employee by another employee who, within six months after the date of receipt of the written notice, suffers injury resulting in death or permanent total disability as a proximate result of the willful and intentional violation. The written notice to the violating employee shall state with specificity all of the following:
a. The identity of the violating employee.
b. The specific written safety rule being violated and the manner of the violation.
c. That the violating employee has repeatedly and continually violated the specific written safety rule referred to in b. above with specific reference to previous times, dates, and circumstances.
d. That the violation places the notifying employee at risk of great injury or death.
A notice that does not contain all of the above elements shall not be valid notice for purposes of this section. An employee shall not be liable for the willful conduct if the injured employee himself or herself violated a safety rule, or otherwise contributed to his or her own injury. No employee shall be held liable under this section for the violation of any safety rule by any other employee or for failing to prevent any violation by any other employee.
(d) In the event the injured employee, or his or her dependents, in case of death, do not file a civil action against the other party to recover damages within the time allowed by law, the employer or the insurance carrier for the employer shall be allowed an additional period of six months within which to bring a civil action against the other party for damages on account of the injury or death. In the event the employer or the insurance carrier has paid compensation to the employee or his or her dependent, or in the event a proceeding is pending against the employer to require the payment of the compensation, the civil action may be maintained either in the name of the injured employee, his or her dependent in case of death, the employer, or the insurance carrier. In the event the damages recovered in the civil action are in excess of the compensation payable by the employer under this chapter and costs, attorney's fees, and reasonable expenses incurred by the employer in making the collection, the excess of the amount shall be held in trust for the injured employee or, in case of death, for the employee's dependents. If the injured employee has no dependent, the personal representative, in the event of death, may bring a civil action against the other party to recover damages without regard to this chapter.
(e) In a settlement made under this section with a third party by the employee or, in case of death, by his or her dependents, the employer shall be liable for that part of the attorney's fees incurred in the settlement with the third party, with or without a civil action, in the same proportion that the amount of the reduction in the employer's liability to pay compensation bears to the total recovery had from the third party. For purposes of the subrogation provisions of this subsection only, “compensation” includes medical expenses, as defined in Section 25-5-77 , if and only if the employer is entitled to subrogation for medical expenses under subsection (a) of this section.
(f) For the purpose of this section, a carrier, person, firm, association, trust, fund, or corporation includes a company or a governmental agency making a safety inspection on behalf of a self-insured employer or its employees, and an officer, director, agent, or employee of the company or a governmental agency.
FindLaw Codes are provided courtesy of Thomson Reuters Westlaw, the industry-leading online legal research system. For more detailed codes research information, including annotations and citations, please visit Westlaw.
FindLaw Codes may not reflect the most recent version of the law in your jurisdiction. Please verify the status of the code you are researching with the state legislature or via Westlaw before relying on it for your legal needs.