Today’s blog deals with the worker’s compensation platform and how that may affect your personal injury case. Let’s take an example that you are driving for a work related errand. While you are stopped for a red light, you are violently rear-ended by an inattentive driver. Due to the negligence of the at fault driver, you seek immediate medical attention. As a result of your injuries, you also miss time from work and have to get additional follow up medical care.
Since you were working at the time of the accident, you can make two claims. One claim would be for worker’s compensation benefits, to pay for your accident related medical care. The other claim would be against the at fault driver and their insurance. The claim against the at fault party can be for more than just getting your medical bills paid and instead can be for pain and suffering and other damages.
It is important to note that the worker’s compensation program gets a credit for any monies the at fault third party driver paid to you as an injured employee. Poremba v. Southern NV Paving, 132 Nev.Ad.Op. 24 (2016). As a simplified example, if worker’s compensation says you should received $15,000 and you already received $5,000 from the at fault party, worker’s compensation could reduce its payment to you by $5,000, resulting in a total worker’s compensation award of $10,000.
The law on worker’s compensation getting a credit for monies paid by the at fault party, is set forth in NRS 616C.215(2). For those interested in taking a look at the statute, it states in part:
2. When an employee receives an injury for which compensation is payable pursuant to the provisions of chapters 616A to 616D, inclusive, or chapter 617 of NRS and which was caused under circumstances creating a legal liability in some person, other than the employer or a person in the same employ, to pay damages in respect thereof:
(a) The injured employee … may take proceedings against that person to recover damages, but the amount of the compensation the injured employee … [is] entitled to receive pursuant to the provisions of chapters 616A to 616D, inclusive, or chapter 617 of NRS, including any future compensation, must be reduced by the amount of the damages recovered ….
(b) If the injured employee … receive[s] compensation pursuant to the provisions of chapters 616A to 616D, inclusive, or chapter 617 of NRS, the insurer … has a right of action against the person so liable to pay damages and is subrogated to the rights of the injured employee or of the employee’s dependents to recover therefor.
Although you may be receiving money from two sources: worker’s compensation and the other driver, the Nevada Supreme Court has stated that if you receive compensation from the at fault party’s insurance company, you can use that money for more than just paying any medical bills. Personal injury settlement funds, are designed not only to pay for medical bills, but to also compensate for pain and suffering, lost wages and may be used to cover typical household expenses, such as rent and utilities. So, your personal injury settlement can be much broader in scope than the worker’s compensation system.
Next time, we will talk about the “Sudden Emergency” jury instruction in Nevada.