Thursday, April 6, 2017

What Happens When You have Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Claim?

William Poremba was driving as part of his job for Southern Nevada Paving. While driving, he got into a car accident. See Poremba v. S. Nev. Paving, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 2 (Jan. 26, 2017). William later filed a workers’ compensation claim through his employer. Since the accident wasn’t his fault, William also made a personal injury claim against the driver that hit him. William ultimately settled his personal injury claim.

As is typical in most settlements, the settlement agreement didn’t specify how the funds were to be allocated. For example, there was no mention how much of the settlement would go towards for pain and suffering, medical bills or lost wages.

After he was done treating and his personal injury case settled, William tried to go back to work.  However, when William tried to go back to work, he realized that he needed additional medical care through the worker’s compensation program. However, William’s request to reopen his worker’s compensation claim was denied. William appealed the decision and was again told he couldn’t re-open his worker’s compensation case. Not be deterred, William’s lawyer took his case all the way up to the Nevada Supreme Court.

In discussing whether his claim could be re-opened, Nevada’s high court, concluded that William’s case could in fact be re-opened. The court said that worker’s compensations insurers could be paid back for medical bills that they paid, but are NOT entitled to reimbursement from the portion of the settlement designated for pain and suffering or lost wages.  See NRS 616A.090.

What does this mean for your personal injury case? If you have a worker’s compensation component to your personal injury case, worker’s compensation can only get paid back for medical treatment that they provided. Any monies you receive for pain and suffering or lost wages cannot be taken by worker’s compensation program.

Next time, we will talk about claiming past versus future damages in trial.