In many workers’ compensation cases there is a personal injury component. This most often rises out of car accidents or motor vehicle accidents that you are involved in during the course and scope of your employment. We are able to settle your personal injury action either before, during or after the work comp settlement.
Whenever you settle your personal injury action with the adverse drivers insurance company, the work comp insurer does have what is called a subrogation interest in your claim. The reason being, is that in Minnesota you are entitled to six types of damages in a personal injury action. This includes past and future medical bills, past and future wage loss, and past and future pain and suffering. Because work comp pays your past medical bills any your past wage loss, and potentially your future medical bills and your future wage loss, Minnesota law states that you can’t, what we call, “double dip”.
So, essentially, since you’ve already been compensated for the past wage loss, the past medical bills, when you recover those items on your personal injury action, you can’t double recover so work comp comes in and says Alright, we’ve paid your medical bills to the tune of $20,000, so you now owe us that from the adverse driver’s liability policy. There is a statutory formula and a statutory calculator that we use to run these numbers through and it generates what the work comp subrogation interest, or lien, will be in your personal injury settlement.
While it doesn’t preclude you from recovering these items in your personal injury action, you will have to be very cognizant of the fact that of the gross amount received from your personal injury settlement, some amount of that will be repaid to the work comp insurer. For motor vehicle accidents that involve multiple layers of insurance, such as underinsurance or uninsured, we recover on the liability side of the adverse driver. Work comp only gets one bite of the apple, per se, so once you repay work comp from the liability settlement, work comp will not then have a claim to your underinsurance, as an example.
We always work with the work comp insurer while we are settling, or have settled, the personal injury action to ensure that at the end of the day we know what your take home will be from the liability insurance before we move on to different layers of insurance.