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Subrogation: A potential glitch in workers' compensation remedy

If you are like most workers in Georgia, you may not give much thought to what should happen if you get injured on the job. It's understandable. Someone who suffers a serious accident isn't all that concerned about how treatment and recovery will be paid for. They're main thought is about getting that care, and rightly so.

As we have noted in a previous post, workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy available to the individuals hurt on the job. That does not mean no other avenues for seeking compensation exist. A third party, such as the maker of faulty work equipment, could be liable for what happened to you, making a personal injury civil viable. To understand the scope of your legal options, however, requires consulting an experienced attorney.

The possible fly in the ointment

There is another provision of Georgia law that, as the idiom goes, might make a preacher cuss. Under state code, it may be possible for your employer or your employer's workers' compensation insurance company to recover what was paid to you if a third-party suit is pursued. The conditions have to be right and the amount recoverable through the lien is limited. But considering that you are the one who were hurt, it's important to appreciate the implications.

In brief, the requirements of what is called subrogation are these:

  • The employer can only seek to recover funds paid as part of workers' compensation.
  • The injury caused has to have been the result of negligent action by someone else. It could be a co-worker or that machine manufacturer we mentioned. If you were hurt by another driver's recklessness while on the road for your employer, that might qualify.
  • The amount that can be recovered is limited to what you actually received.

This only touches on the issue of subrogation, but you can see that it has serious implications if you are considering a third-party suit for your work injury.

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