You’ve been seriously injured on the job and are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. You are also considering filing a personal injury claim against a third party. How will this affect your workers’ compensation benefits?
There are many instances where an injured person is pursuing another party – such as a product or equipment manufacturer – for injuries sustained while injured on the job. This is a very specific area of the law that must be carefully analyzed by a lawyer on behalf of the injured party.
Generally, when a person is injured on the job in Pennsylvania, his or her only remedies are workers’ compensation benefits. However, if the injuries were caused by a third party that is not a co-employee or some action of the employer or simply an injury on the employer’s premises, then the injured worker may also have further claims for pain and suffering against the third party who caused the injury.
For example, if a copy machine repairman is traveling to a customer to perform repairs and is involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else, then that copy machine repairman would have the right to workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. He would also have the right to pursue a claim against the person who caused the motor vehicle accident.
However, once the injured copy machine repairman pursues a claim against the person who caused the car accident, his workers’ compensation benefits are directly involved in his claim for damages against the person who caused the car accident. That means that any benefits the copy machine repairman may receive from his employer through his workers’ compensation insurance may have to be paid back to the workers’ compensation insurance from any money that is secured in the resolution of the claim with the person who caused the car accident.
This interplay of benefits must be carefully analyzed by an attorney specializing in workers’ compensation claims whenever pursuing a claim against a third party in cases that also involve workers’ compensation benefits.
If the injured copy machine repairman were to settle his claim against the person who caused the car accident and failed to protect and/or pay back any workers’ compensation benefits paid to him, he potentially could be at risk for penalties and also a suspension of his future necessary workers’ compensation protection until any benefits are reimbursed to the insurance carrier. Thus, the interplay is very important and must be carefully guarded when pursuing a claim for personal injury damages in situations that also involve workers’ compensation benefits.