Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Subrogation
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Workers’ Compensation benefits are a form of financial relief for workers who become ill or injured at work. They cover the costs of medical care for injured workers and replace the lost income while they are physically unable to work.
In cases where a third party (other than the employer) is responsible for a worker’s injury, additional compensation may be recovered through a third-party claim. Depending upon the circumstances surrounding the accident and subsequent injury, the employer or their insurance carrier may also sue the same third party for damages in civil court. This process is called subrogation.
Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Claims
Workers’ Compensation benefits cover medical expenses and lost wages, but do not cover pain and suffering related to an accident. Compensation for that is possible with a third-party personal injury claim.
Delaware law allows an injured worker’s employer’s insurance company to put a lien on any third-party lawsuit settlement the worker receives. This money is used to reimburse Workers’ Compensation benefits that were paid out to the injured worker. This is only an option when the work injury has not been caused by the employee, their employer, or a co-worker. Subjects of such a claim may include a contractor, a defective product manufacturer, or another party unrelated to the worker’s employer.
Workers whose third-party claims are impacted by subrogation keep any proceeds that remain after reimbursing the Workers’ Compensation carrier.
Common Subrogation Claims
Subrogation claims tend to fall into a few main categories:
- Claims that occur on a property owner or maintained by a third party, including slip and fall accidents
- Claims involving defective tools or machinery, including design, manufacturing, or marketing defects
- Claims involving third-party negligence, such as in the case of a motor vehicle accident
Because proving causation is essential for any worker facing subrogation, it is crucial to document the accident scene and circumstances as accurately as possible. Evidence including incident reports, accident photos, medical records, product information, witness statements, and insurance documents may be an important part of the discovery process, depending on the nature of the incident.
Workers’ Compensation plans that contain a “waiver of subrogation clause” prevent employers and their insurance carriers from claiming a portion of the injured workers’ recovery. This waiver allows them to collect a double recovery for injuries caused by a negligent third party.
Some employers will sign a waiver or reduce their subrogation interest after the fact, in order to settle an open Workers’ Compensation claim. This waiver or subrogation reduction can serve as motivation to encourage the injured worker to forego their Workers’ Compensation claim altogether, in lieu of receiving a larger third-party settlement.
Because it is impossible to predict the outcome of a claim, injured workers will benefit from the counsel of an experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer familiar with subrogation and the benefits and risks of pursuing third-party liability claims after a work injury.
Work Injury Claim Deadlines
Workers who are considering filing a third-party claim for damages related to their injuries should seek legal counsel in a timely manner. If the injured worker does not file a third-party before the statute of limitations runs out, their employer can pursue one on their own. Employers are required to provide notice of intent to pursue any claim within 30 days.
Work injury cases impacted by third-party claims are considerably more complex than basic Workers’ Compensation cases. Workers should know how subrogation can impact their recovery and take steps to protect the damages they deserve for a debilitating work injury or illness. Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC are an invaluable resource for learning more about work injury claims and an employee’s legal rights after an accident.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC Guide Clients Through Complex Injury Claims
To learn more about subrogation and how it can impact your third-party settlement, schedule a free case evaluation with the trusted Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC. We have more than 50 years combined experience tackling work injury claims in a multitude of professions and industries. Let us advocate for you. Call 302-888-1221 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We proudly represent injured workers in Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Middletown, and throughout Delaware, as well as across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.