The Effect of Third-Party Claims on Workers’ Compensation

Third-party personal injury claims become complicated when combined with workers’ compensation.

third-party-claimsThere are certain circumstances, such as a car accident, when an injured employee may file a personal injury claim against a third-party in addition to the workers’ compensation claim. In Missouri, there are precise laws that govern the distribution of any monies obtained in such a claim. This is a complex process that necessitates a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney to assist you.

How Third-Party Claims Affect Worker’s Compensation Claims

In Missouri, if an employee takes legal action against a third-party in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, the employer shall pay a proportionate share of the expenses involved in recovering the award, including legal fees. Once those fees have been allocated, the balance of the award will be divided between the employee and employer. The award collected by the employee will be considered an advance payment on any future workers’ compensation benefits owed by the employer. This means that the injured employee’s past medical expenses must still be paid by the employer, despite any awards from a third-party. The personal injury lawsuit does not cancel out the employer’s obligation to cover those charges that have already been incurred.

Case Study – Who Pays the Medical Bills?

A Missouri worker filed a third-party claim after a workplace accident, winning a substantial award as a result. The employer argued that the $228,838 award should be applied to the balance they still owed for the employee’s medical care. After reviewing the case, the Missouri Labor Board found that the employer was obligated to pay the employee $238,471 for the cost of current medical expenses, and that the third-party award amount would be applied towards the future installments of compensation. This ruling benefited the employee, who will not need to use her portion of the award to pay for the large amount of medical bills she had as a result of the accident.

Third-Party Claims Are Complicated

Third-party claims combined with workers’ compensation is a complicated process. Not only do both the employer and employee bear a part of the expense, the amount of award allocated to each can depend on whether the employee was found to be partially responsible. For example, in the above mentioned case the employee was found 33% responsible for the cause of the accident. This would adjust the share of the award that she is to receive.

On the job car accidents are the most common type of work-related injury that results in a third party claim, but there are other circumstances when an injured employee may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit against another party. There are special laws that apply in these types of situations. Ask a St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney to look over the details of your case and help you decide if this applies in your situation.

Call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300.

Updated: December 31, 2015