Any on–the-job injury may also result in a claim against a third party for negligence, a civil claim which may result in payment of damages far in excess of the minimal payment received for wage loss replacement benefits and medical care under the Worker' Compensation Law. The negligent act or omission must involve a third party that is someone other than your employer or co-worker.
Relative negligent or intentional conduct, as well as adequacy of insurance coverage may limit the amount of monetary recovery in a third party civil claim. Workers' compensation payments for long-term medical coverage and loss of earnings in some instances may prove to be far more important to an injured worker than the short-term payoff from a civil claim. That is why it is important to discuss these issues with your workers' compensation attorney in detail.
After the settlement of any third party claim, there must be coordination of efforts between the workers' compensation attorney and the attorneys handling liability claims to ensure that the workers' compensation insurance carrier consents to settlement of the third party claim and to preserve, protect and continue ongoing and future rights of the injured worker under the Workers' Compensation Law.
A workers' compensation insurance carrier will usually have the right to exert a lien against any settlement for wage loss replacement benefits and medical care paid out on the compensation claim, and will be able to offset the amount of a net third party recover against any future claim the injured worker may have after settlement; however, coordination of efforts may result in ongoing reduced payments of compensation and restoral of full workers' compensation claim benefits in the future.
Careful handling of all third party negligence claims is essential to ensure the best possible result and to avoid the many pitfalls that exist when multiple claims overlap. Our office works carefully to coordinate third party claims with workers' compensation and others claims whether handled by our office or using other attorneys. Our goal is to obtain the best overall settlement and resolution of claims.
Unfortunately, many attorneys who do not handle workers' compensation claims are unfamiliar with the rules relative to third parties recoveries, and this can have a devastating effect on a third party action, as the courts have recently found that rulings in one type of court may have a collateral effect on those in another type of court where the same issues are being considered.
We recommend a legal team approach, utilizing cooperation and coordination between the various attorneys with training and experience handling particular types of liability claims (i.e. negligence, no-fault, medical malpractice) and your workers' compensation attorney. Sharing of information and developing a unified strategy are necessary with other law office for handling accident claims from inception to conclusion.
Contact our firm today if you would like skilled legal assistance with your workers' compensation claim.