In Missouri, third party claims happen when a victim gets hurt while on the job by someone who is unrelated to the workplace. In these cases, the victim can recover workers’ compensation, and can file a personal injury lawsuit against the party that hurt them. However, the workers’ compensation insurance company can put a lien on the personal injury settlement to recover what it had already paid out.
A recent car accident shows how this works.
Tractor Trailer Hits Road Construction Vehicle
On the morning of June 8, 2021, there was a truck accident on I-29. A semi-truck hit a buffer truck, which warns drivers of upcoming roadwork, owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation.
No one was hurt in the accident.
Where Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims Collide
Had there been an injury in the accident, it would be a perfect example of where workers’ compensation and personal injury law come together.
We have talked about the trade-off that is workers’ compensation law, before. Essentially, employers in Missouri agree to provide workers’ compensation insurance. That insurance covers the medical bills and lost wages that are associated with workplace injuries, without asking who was at fault for the incident. In exchange, employees agree not to sue their employers for work-related accidents.
Had there been an injury, here, there would be little doubt that it happened on the job. So workers’ compensation would apply and cover the costs of the victim’s injuries.
But the negligent party who caused the injuries would not have been the employer: It would have been the driver of the semi-truck. So the victim would still have been free to file a personal injury lawsuit and recover compensation for the damages that workers’ compensation did not cover, like pain and suffering and reduced earning capacity.
Third Party Claims and Liens
These personal injury lawsuits are known as “third party claims” because a third party, not the employer, was at-fault for the worker’s injuries.
An important practical difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims, though, is that workers’ compensation begins to pay out to the victim very quickly. Personal injury claims only pay the victim when there is a settlement or a verdict.
This means that workers’ compensation may have already paid out thousands of dollars in compensation to the victim by the time there is any recovery in the third party claim.
If there is a settlement or a verdict in the third party claim, the workers’ compensation insurer – the company that paid the workers’ compensation money to the victim – can put a lien on the settlement. This allows the insurer to recover what it had already paid from the victim’s settlement or verdict.
Victims, however, can negotiate that lien. They are, after all, in a position where they can deny the settlement and leave the workers’ compensation insurer with nothing. The victim and his or her attorney also did all of the work in recovering compensation from the at-fault party.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve St. Joseph
The workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office strive to legally represent hurt workers in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.