Third-Party Liens In Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Cases
Normally, if an employee is injured on the job, their injury is covered under the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. The employee will receive medical treatment in exchange for refraining from filing suit against their employer. However, when a worker is injured in an on-the-job accident that involves a third party, receiving compensation can get more complex because the employer has a statutory right to reimbursement for any medical treatment if the employee sues the third party and wins. If you are in this situation, consulting a Stratford workers’ compensation attorney may help to clarify your options.
The most common type of third-party work accident is if an employee gets into a car accident with a third party. In this kind of situation, the employee has both the right to file suit against the third party if they believe the person was negligent in causing the accident, and the right to seek workers’ compensation coverage from their employer. However, being able to go through with both options would result, in most cases, for a double windfall for the employee. This is contrary to public policy; the goal of personal injury law is to make an injured defendant whole, not to enrich him. Connecticut law gets around this by allowing what are known as third-party liens.
A lien is a financial instrument by which a person or entity can retain control or possession of someone else’s property until some legal duty is fulfilled. A third-party lien is a lien that an employer can assert over any recovery their employee is awarded from a third party. So, if an employee injured in a third-party car accident sues the other driver and is awarded money, the employer has an immediate statutory lien or moratorium on the proceeds for however much credit they have spent on workers’ compensation benefits for the employee.
Depending on the case, it is sometimes possible to induce an employer to waive part or all of their statutory lien, especially if the claim is weak (because then, in theory, the employee may not recover much to begin with). However, many insurers have begun to look down on this possibility over recent years, citing increased costs and a fear of potential fraud as reasons not to waive the employer’s right to recover. Each case is different, but an experienced attorney may be able to work out a settlement with your employer’s insurer that does not take such a large percentage out of a potential recovery.
One thing is clear, however; if you have been injured in an accident that happened during the course and scope of your employment, you have the right to seek medical treatment from your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. Any potential third-party lien can be dealt with once you are on the road to recovery.
Contact A Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Navigating the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim can be time-consuming and complex. An experienced Stratford workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand your options, and how to go through the legal process to get the fairest possible outcome. You deserve knowledgeable legal help while you focus on getting back to normal. Call the Morizio Law Firm today at 475-338-3505 for a free consultation.