Each state has its own workers' compensation laws to handle claims
from employees who are injured on the job. These laws are strict
liability - fault and negligence by the employer are not
considered in order to collect benefits. Punitive damages are not
available to the employee. The legal defenses available in a civil
action such as comparative negligence and assumption of the risk
are not available to the employer in workers' compensation.
However, the injury or illness has to be incurred in the course
of employment in order for the workers' compensation system to
provide benefits to the injured worker. Workers' compensation is
generally the exclusive remedy for an employee's injuries or
illnesses arising out of the course of employment. It is typically
required by the state for every employee - although state law may
provide for specific exemptions for officers/owners, small
companies (those with three/four/five or fewer employees),
domestic workers, farm hands, and independent contractors.
Workers' compensation hearings, if necessary, are normally
administrative proceedings that take place in a separate court
system. However, there are some limits to workers' compensation
being an "exclusive remedy."