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Salvatore P. Candela, EA, ATA, ABA
Enrolled Agent - Tax Advisor
Q: I am a truck driver. One day, I tried to open the bay door at the
back of a truck. There was something wrong with it, and so I badly injured
my wrist. Under a policy issued to my employer, I received workers’ compensation
benefits. I do not think my employer owned this truck, although we
often did jobs with it.
A: Under the Workers’ Compensation Law, you are barred from suing
your employer: the benefits that you received are your exclusive remedy. If
the owner was an alter ego of your employer, then these exclusivity provisions
also bar you from suing the owner. That is, the protection against a lawsuit
also extends to an alter ego of your employer.
To establish itself as an alter ego, the owner must demonstrate either
that it and your employer operated as a single integrated entity, or that one
company controlled the day-to-day operations of the other. To do so, perhaps
the owner will present evidence that the two entities were related and, among
other things, shared some officers.
In opposition, you may be able to show that the entities were formed
for different purposes, had separate bank accounts, filed separate tax returns,
and had different workers’ compensation policies. Moreover, the owner’s
name was on the cabin doors of the owner’s trucks, one of the owner’s
employees oversaw the purchase and maintenance of the trucks, and the
owner billed your employer for its services. In this way, you may have a
strong case that the exclusivity defense of the Workers’ Compensation Law in
fact does not bar a suit against the owner.