What Are Workers’ Compensation Liens?

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In many workers’ compensation cases, your sole remedy is to apply for benefits because you cannot sue your employer.

There are some instances in which there could be a third-party who is to blame for your accident. By the time you settle your lawsuit, you may have already been receiving workers’ compensation benefits for it. Then, there are legal considerations that involve whether and how an insurance company or a doctor can be paid back for what they have already done for you.

To learn more about your legal rights in a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party lawsuit for an accident on the job, contact the experienced lawyers at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys today.

Liens Can Happen If You Filed for Workers’ Compensation Benefits Immediately After Your Injury

After you have been injured on the job, you should review your legal options with your attorney.

There may be a chance that you can file a lawsuit against a third party for your injuries.

Before that point, you may have filed a worker’s compensation claim. There is nothing wrong with filing a workers’ compensation claim at the same time that you have a personal injury lawsuit pending. In fact, it is a prudent and pragmatic thing to get the money that you are eligible for when you can obtain it.

There is no guarantee that you will win a personal injury lawsuit. You need to meet your own burden of proof to demonstrate liability. There is a chance that you may file a lawsuit and not be successful.

While it is also not automatic that you receive workers’ compensation benefits, you also do not need to prove negligence. All you need to show is that you suffered a job-related injury. Thus, there is a lower standard to get workers’ compensation benefits than there is to win a personal injury lawsuit.

The Insurance Company or a Provider May Be Paid Back

When you have a personal injury lawsuit pending, the insurance company that has paid your workers’ compensation benefits gains a lien on your potential settlement or award.

If you win a personal injury lawsuit, or you receive a settlement check, you would be “double-dipping” if you were able to receive and keep both. It is only fair that the insurance company be reimbursed for the amount of money that they already spent when there is a third party that has an obligation to pay your claim. Thus, the insurance company would be paid back through their lien. According to the law, anyone with a lien must be paid back before you can receive anything in proceeds from your lawsuit settlement or award.

You may be wondering whether the insurance company is entitled to be paid back for the entire amount of money that they advance. Otherwise, your entire settlement may go to pay back the insurance company, and you may be left with no money for yourself.

You May Negotiate a Workers’ Comp Lien or Ask the Court to Reduce It

North Carolina state law allows you to file a motion to request that a judge either reduce or eliminate the workers’ compensation lien. The judge may do so if they find that it would be in the spirit of fairness. State law often tries to balance the interests of various parties to the case, and your rights are certainly important to the court.

The court would need to consider the following in determining whether a lien can be reduced or extinguished:

  • Whether the insurance carrier would have a continuing obligation to pay benefits
  • How much the employee would be able to receive and whether they would benefit from a windfall
  • The injured worker’s need for certainty and a conclusion

In addition, your workers’ comp attorney may also be able to negotiate the lien with the insurance company or the physician. Both may have their own financial incentives to reduce the amount of the lien or negotiate it with you.

While they want to maximize their own financial situation, medical providers and insurance companies also need to be pragmatic. If they do not negotiate with you, they know that a judge could extinguish or reduce the lien.

We Work to Maximize Your Financial Recovery

You do not automatically have to file a workers’ compensation claim for a job-related injury.

Although your employer is largely going to be immune from negligence-based lawsuits, remember you may be able to sue a third party for your on-the-job injury. They have not paid for workers’ compensation premiums, so the law gives them no shelter.

It is in your financial best interest to find out if there’s a potentially liable third party whom you can sue. Your compensation in a personal injury lawsuit could be higher than the amount of money you would receive in a worker’s compensation claim. You can, for example, qualify for full lost wages and non-economic damages.

Let an experienced attorney conduct an immediate review of your case to help determine whether there is a possible defendant in a lawsuit. Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys will work to help you maximize your financial compensation under all circumstances.

When you are dealing with a possible third-party lawsuit, there are a variety of possible outcomes. You may be involved in a fluid situation that requires the strategic and tactical expertise of an experienced lawyer. We’re used to dealing with multiple parties in a workers’ comp claim, in addition to pursuing a lawsuit at the same time.

Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

If you have been injured on the job, the experienced lawyers at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys can aggressively represent you. We’re skilled negotiators when you’re dealing with workers’ compensation liens.

Because we’ve been defense attorneys for the insurers in the past, we know the legal process is not necessarily a friendly one when you are owed money. You can speak to one of our attorneys during a free initial consultation. Call us today at 910-405-7751 or send us a message through our website.

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