If you are hurt while working, you are generally entitled to make a claim under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. You cannot sue your employer or any fellow employees for your injuries. That is the foundational compromise of our workers’ compensation system: In exchange for giving up the right to sue your employer and co-workers, your employer is to pay for your related medical care and a portion of your lost wages – even if you are the cause of your injuries.
Additionally, all medical providers who treated you for your on-the-job injuries must accept the payment from the workers’ compensation carrier as payment-in-full, so they cannot bill you for co-pays, deductibles or anything else.
But what if someone other than you, your employer or co-workers caused your injuries?
You can pursue a claim against the person at fault, often referred to as a third-party claim. For example, if you are injured at a job site by a worker from another contractor, or if you are driving for your work and hurt in a car crash caused by someone else, you can make a claim on that contractor’s or other driver’s insurance company.
But there is a catch: If you obtain any money from the person at-fault or his/her insurance company, you have to reimburse the workers’ compensation carrier if that carrier paid some or all of your accident-related medical bills.
There is another catch, too: the future credit. If you obtain money via your third-party claim from the person at fault or his/her insurance company, any amount of that settlement you get would be applied as a future credit. That means if you re-injure the same areas of your body in a future on-the-job accident, the workers’ compensation carrier does not have to pay any of your medical bills for those areas re-injured until your net share is exhausted, provided a doctor finds that your injuries were originally caused by the original accident for which you received settlement money. Consequently, sometimes it’s not worth making a workers’ compensation claim.
At Rowley Chapman & Barney, we can guide you through the complexity of any third-party claim because of a work-related injury and make sure you get the money you deserve from the person responsible. If you need help, call us at 480-833-1113.