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Subrogation in workers’ compensation cases

Employees in New York and around the country who are injured in on-the-job accidents are usually entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and they may also file personal injury lawsuits when their injuries were caused by a negligent third party. The assumption by one party of the legal rights of another is known as subrogation, and it is quite common in the insurance industry when third parties are involved. When claims are related to workplace accidents, employers and workers’ compensation insurance providers may have a subrogated interest.

The goal of subrogation is to ensure that injured parties are not compensated twice for the same injury, loss or damage. This usually happens in workers’ compensation cases when employees are injured in traffic accidents caused by negligent drivers, by defective or unsafe machinery supplied by a third party or in slip-and-fall accidents that take place outside the workplace. In these situations, employers and insurance companies may take action to recover any monies they paid if the injured worker is later awarded damages by a jury or settles a personal injury lawsuit at the negotiating table.

Subrogation is usually a slow process as subrogated claims cannot be settled until workers have recovered from their injuries and their legal actions have been resolved. When workers’ compensation claims are subrogated, workers receive benefits, and then insurers take action to recover some or all of the money they paid.

Personal injury attorneys with experience in this area may call for more thorough investigations into workplace accidents when a negligent third party could be responsible. This is important as subrogation should be recognized during a claim’s early stages, and fault is not normally an important factor in workers’ compensation cases. When their clients have a subrogated interest in a workers’ compensation claim, attorneys may take steps to ensure that the insurer involved files a lien on any compensation that the injured worker receives.