Thomas McCutcheon

Often clients who are injured on the job have both workers compensation and personal injury claims. Examples include, a truck driver injured in a motor vehicle accident, a factory worker injured by a defective product or construction workers injured by another contractor’s employee.

In those cases the injured employee has the absolute right to workers compensation benefits. That includes the right to have their medical bills paid and to have temporary total disability payments while they can’t work paid by their employer.

Alabama Code §25-5-11 shifts the burden of compensation to the third party (the person whose fault it was) by requiring that the money received be used to pay back the employer. Even if the employee who is injured does not seek to sue or recover benefits from the party who caused the injury, the worker compensation carrier may sue that third party and is given an additional six months to do so.

If the money recovered exceeds the amount of the workers compensation claim, the employer shall owe no further benefits.

Remember that these are two different types of damages. Workers compensation is very specific in that it pays 2/3 of your average weekly wages while a person can’t work and will pay for a permanent injury, but workers compensation does not pay for the loss of enjoyment of life. That means that if you can’t go see your children play ball or bowl or golf and because you are injured on the job, you don’t get a dime for it. On the other hand, if somebody runs a red light, a jury can and will take into account the things the injured person liked to do before and how the injury affects their ability to enjoy life both in general and the specific things that they no longer can do as a result of their injury.

Remember, the law in Alabama gives the injured worker’s employer the right to a credit for the amount of damages that they collect from someone other than their employer.

There are ways to use these principles to benefit the injured person.

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