2 Things To Consider Before Filing A Worker's Compensation Claim & A Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you were injured while on the job, you may be able to file both a worker's compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. If you are thinking about going down that route, make sure you consider these three things before you proceed:
#1: Was A Third Party Involved?
Generally speaking, a third party has to be involved in the injury that you sustained in order to be able to file both a worker's compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. This third party is legally referred to as a "third party claimant." A third party claimant is anyone who was involved in your injury and is not an employee of your employer.
One of the most classic examples of a third party claimant situation is if you were driving a vehicle for work purposes and were involved in an accident with another driver who does not work for your employer. In that case, you could file a worker's compensation claim against your employer since you were on the job at the time, and you could file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
However, an injury causes while you are driving is not the only type of situation where a third party could be involved. For example, if you were out running errands while on the clock and were involved in a slip and fall case, you could file two claims. Or if you were at another business picking up items and something fell on you and injured you, you could file two claims. There are countless other situations where a third party could be involved other than the three described above.
#2: Will Any Personal Injury Awards Take Away From Your Worker's Compensation Award?
In some states, if you pursue a personal injury claim for the same situation that you are pursuing a worker's compensation claim for, the money you get may cancel each other out.
Some states allow worker's compensation boards to put what is referred to as a subrogation lien or claim on your settlement with them. That means that if you get money from a third party, as you would if you won a personal injury lawsuit against a third party, that money would be deducted from your worker's compensation claim.
In more straightforward terms, if your worker's compensation claim was for $25,000 and you were awarded $25,000 in a personal injury lawsuit, $25,000 would be subtracted from your personal settlement and be given back to the payer of your worker's compensation suit. You would still end up with only $25,000; the same amount you would have gotten if you had just accepted your workers compensation settlement.
That isn't to say that it isn't worth it to file two suits, just that you really need to look at the numbers and make sure that it is worth it. If you could get substantially more money through your personal injury lawsuit, it could be worth it to pay back what your worker's compensation paid you. For example, if your worker's compensation claim was settled for $25,000, and you were awarded $200,000 through your personal injury claim, even though you would have to pay back the $25,000 worker's compensation claim, you would walk away with $175,000.
Before you proceed with filing both a worker's compensation suit and a personal injury lawsuit, make sure that a third party was involved and make sure you understand how your awards may impact one another. You should only move forward with two suits if the possible financial gain is worth it. An attorney, like Robert M Kaner Attorney, can help you make that decision.