Employer Liability and Third Party Liability Defense

In Illinois, unlike the majority of the states, while an employer is immune from most direct lawsuits, it is not immune from third party actions for contribution pursuant to the Illinois Contribution Act. The employer may be sued by a defendant to a lawsuit to share in contribution for damages to an injured employee. The employee will sue a third party. For example, if the employee is employed by a subcontractor, sue the general contractor, owner or architect for negligence. The general contractor/owner or architect may sue the employer for contribution. The employer’s liability for contribution is generally capped by its liability for workers’ compensation payments (the Kotecki doctrine). Kotecki may be waived pursuant to a contract (and usually is waived in the standard AIA construction contract). Issues can also exist as to contractual risk transfer when the employer furnishes insurance (as an additional insured) to the party suing it (the Briseno doctrine).

Our Civil Litigation Department headed by Gregory G. Vacala is expert in defending claims for contribution whether protected by Kotecki and/or subject to the Braye or Briseno doctrine.

Greg was recently successful in obtaining a no liability verdict against an employer while the plaintiff employee recovered over two million dollars and the employer was able to recover its entire lien just as if it was not a party to the litigation.