Most people think that the only parties involved in a workers’ compensation claim are the worker, the employer and the employer’s insurer. However, co-workers can also be involved in the issue and there can also be third parties. Third parties become relevant if they are the cause of the injury suffered by the worker in question.
Under Arizona compensation law, you cannot sue your employer or co-worker for injury sustained at work. A lot of workers think that because they are already receiving compensation from their employers, they cannot bring a civil suit against a third party. The reverse is the case. You can bring a civil suit against a third party (not your employer or co-worker) who is responsible for your injury.
Filing a civil suit against a third party could be a viable option when the workers’ compensation happens not to be enough. When you want to file a civil suit against a third party for your injury, there are some rules that you have to pay attention to. The following are some of them.
As a worker entitled to a compensation pay, you have a period of one year within which you can file a claim against a third
party. Once this period elapses, the right to file this claim is given to the insurance carrier.
In some situations, the claim can be re-assigned to you by the insurer but this doesn’t apply in all situations. Therefore, you have to make sure that you take all necessary steps to ensure that you bring a claim within the stipulated time.
You have to notify your insurance carrier of your intention to file a claim against the third party. Also, you should keep the insurance carrier up to date with what goes on during the claim. This includes giving notice of the pleadings and rulings related to the case. The reason for this is because the insurer has an interest in the case and not informing it would affect it adversely.
When you enter a settlement with the third party, you must receive written consent from the insurer. Failure to do this can cost you your entitlements under your workers’ compensation claim. The reason for this is because the insurer has a right of lien on certain aspects of the recovery gotten from the third party.
When you settle a claim in your suit against a third party, the workers’ compensation insurer may be entitled to a lien on the recovery made under the settlement. The insurer has a lien over compensation, surgical, medical and hospital benefits. You should however note that the insurer can’t get a lien in relation to administrative expenses or Independent Medical Examination (IME).
The above mentioned rules are in no way exhaustive. There are numerous other rules that regulate civil suits against third parties. To be fully abreast of them all, you would need the services of a top Arizona workers’ compensation attorney to guide you effectively through the process.
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