Workers’ Compensation Paybacks After Auto Accidents in Virginia
It’s beneficial to have workers' compensation which covers some of the medical bills and lost wages if you have been in a vehicle crash. Examples include police officers who are hurt on duty and highway workers. However, if my client is hurt in a car wreck on duty, he will have to pay back to the workers' compensation insurer if there's a successful recovery of money from the at‑fault driver in a personal injury case.
I often have to educate the insurance representatives about exactly how the payback works. It's also something that requires good explanation to my injured clients who were in a workers' comp situation and something that I want juries to understand when a case of this sort is presented to them.
The main idea is that even though workers' compensation may have to pay for the medical bills and surgeries as well as missed time from work they expect to get their money back from the person to whom they paid the money if there is a third party responsible for causing the injury.
So an example would be if my client is driving a company car to run an errand for their boss and they get hurt by some other driver's fault. They have a regular personal injury automobile accident case and claim against the insurance company for the driver who hit them. However, because they also were on duty and they have received money from their workers' compensation carrier, the workers' compensation carrier is going to have their hand out at the time of any settlement or verdict in the personal injury case.
This is a matter of statutory or written law in the Virginia Code. There's no way to get around paying back the workers' compensation it has to be dealt with. In fact, as the personal injury attorney, I can't even settle the case without getting the permission of the workers' compensation insurer.
So if you go to a jury trial in a case like this you want the jury to understand that if they give $100,000.00 to the client who had $33,000.00 worth of medical bills paid for by workers' comp that the $100,000.00 is not all going to go to the person who was injured. Rather in addition to attorney's fees and costs, there's also these paybacks.
Worker’s Comp is Like Medicare in Relation to Paybacks
This idea of having to pay back others for monies that have been paid on behalf of the injured person is common in a lot of different contexts. For example, if a governmental insurance like Medicaid or Medicare paid the medical bills they have to be paid back.
Under some circumstances, a health insurance company or employer who paid the medical bills has to be paid back. There are numerous choices like this, and the experience personal injury attorney knows about the paybacks and liens because that's what they do all day.
However, the client may be surprised to learn that he doesn't get all of the money that the insurance company offers in settlement or the jury awards in a verdict. Sometimes the insurance company adjusters, many of whom are new or are inexperienced, don't fully understand that I as the personal injury attorney have to make sure that these paybacks are taken care of out of the client's money, and therefore it's going to require more money to make them whole. There are limitations on what a jury can be told about insurance in Virginia. However, there are ways to make sure that the jury understands that the award to be "full and fair" as required by the law needs to take into account that some sums of any award will not be received by the injured party because of paybacks like workers' compensation.
If you have any questions about personal injury or compensation, do not hesitate to call our personal injury lawyers at (757) 455-0077. We have advice on our website about what to do after a car crash in the Commonwealth of Virginia.