Workers’ compensation benefits are usually the only money a worker injured in Union or anywhere else in South Carolina can recover for his injuries. But there is one exception, and even then there’s a catch. And you must be very, very careful.
If someone not working for the employer causes the injury, a hurt worker might have a claim against that party to recover damages in a personal injury claim. The classic example is getting hurt while driving for work in a crash that’s not your fault. In that case, you can recover money for your personal injuries from the liability insurance policy of the at-fault driver and any underinsurance you have, just as with any other car crash case. At the same time, you can also get workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages and medical care.
But enjoying the best of both worlds does not come for free.
The workers’ compensation insurance company must be paid back from your wreck settlement. This is called a “workers’ compensation lien.” Just calculating the amount of the lien can be complex. The lien might be negotiated down with the comp insurance company to maximize the amount you get from the wreck settlement. Usually, the final amount of the lien requires approval by the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
If the workers’ comp insurance company refuses to accept a reduced amount, you can request a contested hearing before the Commission to decide the amount. Justifying the amount of the settlement you propose involves an extremely complicated calculation and thorough review of many legal factors involving both personal injury law and workers’ comp law. This can require having your case reviewed by another lawyer who can testify as an expert that the lien settlement amount you propose is reasonable.
Be Very, Very Careful
The law governing these cases contains explicit requirements. If they are not followed, it could cost you your workers’ compensation benefits. For example, you can lose your comp benefits if you settle your wreck case before your comp case, or fail to properly notify certain parties in the workers’ comp case of your personal injury lawsuit.
If you’ve been involved in a work injury that might involve a party besides your employer, the law is complex and unforgiving. You owe it to yourself and your family to avoid the pitfalls that could cost you benefits you need by discussing your case with a workers compensation lawyer experienced in handling cases like yours. Feel free to email us or start a live chat to schedule a free meeting, or call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.