I was hurt in a car accident at work. Can I sue the other driver if my employer paid me or will pay me worker’s compensation?
If you were hurt in a car accident while working, you will probably receive worker’s compensation for your injuries. When you accept this compensation from your employer, you still have a right to sue the person who caused, or had some fault in causing, the accident. Under the law, this person is known as a “third party.” A good reason to sue a third party is that worker’s compensation won’t pay you for pain and suffering or other damages that you may be entitled to as a result of the accident. In fact, worker’s compensation will generally only cover you for basic medical expenses and lost wages. By suing a third party you are therefore trying to receive full compensation for your injuries. A third party may be required to pay you for various types of damages that you suffered as a result of the accident. He or she may also be required to reimburse any worker’s benefits paid to you. What is important to understand, is that the worker’s compensation insurance company will have a right to join your lawsuit. In fact, the insurance company may bring the lawsuit in the first place and claim damages on your behalf. Regardless of who starts the lawsuit, all parties who had a right to sue will be entitled to some portion of the recovery. This means that you may receive additional compensation for your injury, even if you never started or joined the lawsuit. On the flip side, the insurance company will also be entitled to some portion of the recovery, if you start and carry-out the lawsuit alone. Under either circumstance, you will receive at least one-third of the proceeds of the lawsuit, after costs. The remaining amount will go to reimburse your employer for any worker’s compensation paid to you. If there is money left-over after that, it will go to you as well. However, the remaining portion will act as a “cushion” for future benefits. For instance, if there is a $20,000 cushion and you need future care for the injuries related to the car accident, worker’s compensation won’t start paying until you have spent $20,000 on that medical care. If you have any questions or concerns, contact one of our attorneys. We will discuss all the details of your case with you for free.