Don’t Let a New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Dispute Ruin Your Life
If a worker is injured as a result of the negligence of a third party (not a co-employee), the worker has a right to sue the third party. If the worker is successful, then the workers’ compensation carrier is entitled to be reimbursed for payments made for temporary disability benefits, medical expenses, and any payment for permanent disability. These payments and reimbursements are controlled by Section 40 of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
In simple terms, Section 40 exists to prevent a double recovery by a worker injured as a result of the negligence of a third party. However, it is certainly in the interest of a worker to pursue both claims. In fact if a worker does not do so, then the workers’ compensation has the right to sue in the workers’ name.
The interplay between the compensation case and the third party claim can be confusing. The reimbursement to the compensation carrier is based on a formula written into the Statute. The amount of reimbursement to the compensation carrier is based on the percentage of counsel fee in the third party claim. Most commonly, the counsel fee in the third party negligence case would be one third of the recovery, whether through settlement or trial.
The amount the compensation carrier would be reimbursed would be two thirds of its’ payments, with the remaining one third going to the injured worker.
If the amount of money paid in the compensation case exceeds the amount of the third party recovery payments made to the compensation carrier would satisfy any lien that it would have. If the third party recovery exceeds any compensation payments made then the compensation carrier’s payments would be reduced by two thirds until those payments equal the amount of the third party recovery.
As indicated, this kind of process can be confusing for both claimants and attorneys. However, these lien rights cannot be ignored. The compensation carrier can insist that it be reimbursed. It can act on behalf of the petitioner to sue a negligent third party. If there is a third party recovery and the lien rights of the compensation carrier ignored, then it can sue the claimant and/or its’ attorney.
One further word, regarding workers who are employed by public entities (State, County, Municipalities, etc.), the Courts have the legislation as not obligating a public entity sued because of alleged negligence to reimburse a compensation carrier under Section 40.
It is important to note and emphasize that with certain rare exceptions the negligence of a co-worker of the employer is not a basis for instituting a law suit in the Superior Court. A workers’ rights when injured in the job is governed by whether the accident happened while the worker was on the job. This is true as well as if the worker was negligent.
This has been a short summary of the Law regarding work connected injuries and the negligence of a third party. It is a complex are of the Law, which can result in some misunderstanding as to various rights. However, it should be emphasized that the lien rights of compensation carriers are controlled by Statute and have to be taken into account when pursuing a work connected accident caused by the negligence of a third party.
- Abrasions, contusions and lacerations
- Amputations, paralysis, and quadriplegia
- Asbestos exposure
- Back injuries, head injuries, knee injuries, neck injuries and shoulder injuries
- Broken bones, fractures, breaks, and dislocations
- Burns, disfigurement and scarring
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and repetitive stress disorders
- Chemical burns and toxic chemical exposure
- Work-related stress, emotional trauma, and psychiatric disabilities
- Eye injuries and hearing problems
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Work-induced heart attacks and strokes
For more information about workers’ compensation claims in New Jersey or for help in your case, contact the attorneys of Gaylord Popp LLC at 855-850-7856.