Steven Mandelaris recently negotiated a successful resolution of an F.O.P. member’s workers’ compensation claim. The incident arose from injuries resulting from an on-duty car crash involving a Patrol Deputy Sheriff.
Occupational injuries arising out of a car accident involve unique complexities. While the workers’ compensation carrier is obligated to pay for all reasonable and necessary accident related medical bills, a little-known fact involving car crashes occurring on-duty, is that by statute, the workers’ compensation carrier essentially owns any negligence claim asserted against the at-fault driver. C.R.S. 8-41-203 provides that “The payment of compensation pursuant to . . . of this title shall operate as and be an assignment [to the workers’ compensation carrier] of the cause of action against such other person.” Importantly, this only extends to economic damages, physical impairment, and disfigurement. The statute provides that the assignment does not extend to “Shall not extend to moneys collected for non-economic damages awarded for pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, or impairment of quality of life.” This means the workers’ compensation carrier, not the injured worker, has the right to make a claim against the at-fault party for incurred medical bills and wage losses.
In these matters, prompt action and statutory notice requirements to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to preserve the injured workers’ claim against the at-fault party. Despite this statutory language, the injured worker may still pursue a claim. Provided appropriate statutory notice requirements are timely issued, the right to repayment asserted by the workers’ compensation carrier is reduced an amount equal to the reasonable attorney fees and costs paid by the injured employee. Aggressively negotiating the apportionment of economic and non-economic damages often times operates to reduce any – if not all – subrogation liens asserted by the workers’ compensation carrier which leads to increased financial recovery to the injured worker.
When workers’ compensation claims and car accident claims intersect, a statutory maze of requirements follows. These matters are very complex and specific deadlines and notice requirements must be complied with in order to maximize financial recovery to the injured worker while minimizing repayment obligations to the workers compensation carrier.
Free Consultation: If you or anyone you know has been a victim in a motor vehicle collision, strongly consider Contacting Steven Mandelaris for a free consultation or to address any questions.