How Third-Party Settlements and Requests for Offset Impact Your Workers’ Comp Benefits
Most people understand that when you get hurt on the job during the course of your duties, the expenses related to your injuries and lost wages are paid by workers? compensation insurance, which is administered by the state. But did you know that your workers? comp benefits can be impacted by third-party settlements and the offsets they can create?
You may be surprised to learn that workers? compensation rarely covers all of an injured worker?s expenses that spring from a job-related injury. Through an award, wage loss payments are about two-thirds of your average weekly wages for the time you are unable to work (settlements can be vary this number). Occasionally, however, an employee might have a claim against a third-party for the harm on the job. These third-party claims might mean additional compensation for your injuries.
While such claims are good news for the injured employee, you need the help of a workers? comp lawyer at Lugar Law PC to understand the impact third-party settlements and employer requests for offsets can have on your worker?s comp benefits or liens an employer can put on your personal injury award/settlement. Our experienced injury lawyers can fight for all the compensation you deserve by making sure all the responsible parties pay and you are fully compensated. contact our Roanoke lawyers today at (540) 384-5233 to schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case.
The workers? compensation system was created so that injured workers could receive help with medical expenses and lost wages quickly instead of being forced to sue employers through the circuit court which can take years to receive compensation. Accordingly, employees cannot sue their employers over an on-the-job accident resulting in injury ? the workers compensation Commission is the only venue for compensation by the employer for your work injury. Workers Compensation Commission, however, does not hear cases regarding an at-fault third-party. Thus, one file a civil lawsuit based on tort (negligence) when the negligence of a third-party caused or contributed to your injury.
For example, if you are working on a highway and a driver speeds through the construction zone hitting you, the driver is a third-party that may be responsible for your injury, as well as, you may be compensated through work. While you may have workers? compensation benefits because you were hurt while working, you likely also have a personal injury claim against the driver who hit you too. A third-party claim can also be made if your workplace injury was caused by an object. For instance, if the scaffolding you were standing on to paint a house had a manufacturing defect and collapsed resulting in your injury (this is a products liability case against the manufacturer of the object).
Understanding when you have a possible third-party claim is not always easy, especially when you are focused on healing so you can get back to work. Also, the pitfalls of trying to figure out the best approach and what evidence is needed is not easy for someone not well versed in this profession and practice area. Feel free to consult with our workers? comp lawyers. It is worth the time to investigate because a third-party lawsuit could compensate you for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring and disfigurement, disability, reduced earning potential, and reduced quality of life ? many of the named above third-party claims are not compensable for an injured worker under workers compensation regime.
The Impact of Third-Party Settlements and Offsets
Should our Roanoke third-party claims lawyers determine you have a viable claim outside of the workers? comp system, they will work to settle the matter with the other party?s insurer or prepare the case for trial. This process may include filing a lawsuit in the civil court system. It is imperative (and required) that you file for workers? compensation benefits while pursuing any possible third-party recovery.
Under Virginia law, if you were to receive compensation for your workplace injuries from a third-party settlement or court win, a lien can be placed against the recovery. Your employer can also ask for an ?offset? against the workers? compensation benefits paid on your behalf. In fact, even if you don?t pursue a third-party, your employer or the workers? compensation carrier can file a lawsuit in your place.
What this means is that your employer and the insurance carrier are entitled to proceeds from a third-party personal injury claim so they are repaid for your workers? comp benefits. This applies to both past benefits and any future ones that were paid to you or your family. If such a lien is applied, our attorneys will review each item on it to make sure it is valid and if there are discrepancies, ask those be removed. At times, one can negotiate a settlement of the workers? comp claim with a waiver of the employer?s interest in the third-party claim.
Because liens and subrogations are complex legal matters, your best option is to work with one of our workers? comp attorneys so that your compensation is maximized. You can focus on getting back to work while we take care of the legal process.
We Can Help You with Third-Party Claims After a Workplace Injury
Most often, an employee injured on the job will be covered solely by workers? compensation benefits. At times, however, if you were hurt while working and there is a potential third party involved that could be responsible, you could have a third-party claim and we can help evaluate your potential case. Contact an experienced workers? comp attorney at Lugar Law PC so we can investigate all the possible avenues for recovery of your damages. Contact us today at (540) 384-5233 to schedule a free evaluation of your case.