If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in the course of your employment, New York State provides No-Fault Benefits in addition to Workers’ Compensation Benefits. No-Fault Benefits are provided by the insurance company for the vehicle you are riding in. There are exceptions to this rule and other coverages may also apply depending on your particular circumstances.
Workers’ Compensation Is Primary
Workers’ Compensation benefits are primary. This means that the Workers’ Compensation carrier pays medical and lost wage benefits first. No-Fault Benefits are secondary. Typically, there is a little bit of additional money from the No-Fault carrier, because Workers’ Compensation pays 2/3 of your average weekly wage and No-Fault pays 80%. Typically, No-Fault policies have limits, which are exhausted before the Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Because an auto accident is often the result of the negligence of a “third-party” (not your employer or co-worker), the law allows you to bring a separate civil lawsuit against the negligence party. This is referred to as a “third-party action.”
Many third-party cases happen in automobile accidents. However, third-party cases may also arise from negligence of a third-party in the workplace or on sites that you may be working. New York State’s Labor Law provides for some very important protections for construction workers and those working from elevated heights. Again, this type of case is very fact-driven and may have additional, short statutes of limitations. Therefore, if you think your injury may fall into one of these categories, you should immediately seek legal assistance.
The law does not allow a double recovery, therefore, the Workers’ Compensation Carrier has a lien under Section 29 of the Workers’ Compensation Law against the monies paid in a third-party action. What this means is that the injured worker will have to pay from the proceeds of the law suit, the Workers’ Compensation Carrier for both the medical and lost wage benefits paid. There is a credit for the cost of the recovery. It is very important that the Workers’ Compensation Carrier consent to a settlement in a third-party action.
Why Do I Have To Obtain Workers’ Compensation’s Consent?
Because If you do not obtain consent and/or satisfy the lien, it is likely that you will have forfeited your rights to future benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Law. Meaning that you may no longer have medical care or be entitled to lost wage payments. This is especially true in cases involving Motor Vehicles as often the policy limits are much less than what is paid in a Workers’ Compensation Case.
It’s very important that you understand the rights and obligations when you have more than one action arising from the same injury. At MCV Law, we make a real effort to take a holistic approach to third party cases that arise from a work-related event to ensure that the claimant is getting the greatest benefit they can. This maximum benefit approach does not always involve bringing a third party suit, because of the lien provisions and the fees associated with third party actions.