Alter Ego

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.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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