Temporary employees are usually protected under a temp agency's workers' comp insurance policy, but there are exceptions where additional coverage is available. When a company uses a temp agency to find employees for their work, their agreements typically state that the temporary worker is not an employee of the company and instead the temp agency is responsible for the worker.
A North Carolina county hired a temp agency to find workers needed for job duties at a landfill. Their agreement was just as described above: The temporary workers were not recognized as employees of the county. One of the temporary workers was injured while working at the landfill and died as a result of his work-related injuries. His surviving family members received compensation from the temp agency's workers' comp carrier, and then they also sued the county-employed driver of the vehicle that struck and killed the worker, as well as the county.
Normally there is an exclusive remedy provision that would have invalidated the suit under North Carolina workers' compensation law. However, the exclusive remedy provision bars suits against an employer (which is when workers' comp insurance is tapped). This is the case if the employer hired the worker directly or as a contract of hire.
Our workers' comp lawyers in Raleigh explain: Since the county elected not to establish an employment relationship directly with the temporary worker, the county was not protected by North Carolina workers' compensation law and the exclusive remedy provision did not apply.