Subrogation and Workers’ Compensation Claims

personal injury law

When a worker suffers a job-related injury, they deserve to receive workers’ compensation no matter who or what caused the accident. The employee needs to resolve their claim to receive worker’s compensation for medical bills, other expenses, and time away from work.

Some employees get injured on the job because of the negligence of a third party, someone other than the employer. This situation can set up an injured worker to receive double the compensation from (a) the employer through workers’ compensation and (b) the liable third party. To prevent an employee from getting paid twice for the same accident, subrogation comes into play.

Subrogation is an insurance principle that prevents the injured person from “double-dipping” into the benefits owed to them at the expense of another party. In general, workers with medical expenses and wage loss can file a claim for workers’ compensation and receive a settlement. However, subrogation allows the worker’s comp insurance provider to seek legal action against the third party to recoup the insurance loss that the employer incurs.

Types of Third Parties Liable in Workers’ Compensation Claims

Different work-related situations exist where a third party is liable for an employee’s injury. Workers’ compensation insurance can pursue any of the following in recouping losses:

  • Individual—A commercial driver gets hurt in a car accident because of another driver’s negligence.
  • Third-party worksite or property—A construction worker slips and falls on the job site that another party owns.
  • Defective machinery, products, or equipment—A worker is injured while using a faulty piece of machinery that another party owns or maintains.

According to Ohio law, the liable third party might be the employer or a co-worker if they acted with intent in a way that caused the work-related injury.

How Subrogation Affects Workers’ Comp Reimbursement

In workers’ comp subrogation claims in Ohio, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) pursues a legal claim against a liable third party, but not at the expense of the injured employee. The BWC can only recoup costs that would have otherwise been paid two-fold to the employee.

An example might illustrate this process. Suppose an employee driving a company truck during work hours is stopped at a red light and gets rear-ended by another driver. The truck driver has to seek medical care and misses three weeks of work because of the injury for which they receive workers’ compensation from the BWC. Suppose the truck driver also brings a personal injury claim against the other driver and gets a settlement. In this case, subrogation allows the BWC to recover the payment amount equal to what it paid the employee. The employee suing the negligent driver gets to retain any money in excess of the amount they received from workers’ compensation.

Does Subrogation Negatively Impact an Injured Worker?

Subrogation is not designed to interfere with your collection of fair compensation for your injuries and lost wages. The intent of subrogation is to benefit both the injured worker and their employer. On the one hand, the injured worker still gets compensation for their medical bills, time away from work, and other related expenses. Also, the employer benefits because they receive money from any subrogation claim and, therefore, can recover their insurance losses.

If the negligence of a third party caused or contributed to your job-related injury, know what your rights are before you pursue a claim against the third party. A workers’ comp attorney can help you understand Ohio subrogation regulations and guide you through what is usually a complicated process.