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Can I recover third party money while collecting workers' comp?

In most cases, an injured worker will only have one avenue to seek financial assistance to pay for his or her work-related injuries. However, there may be instances in which a worker can pursue claims for personal injury damages against a third-party, who may also be responsible for his or her injuries.

Accidents like this may include a vehicle driver who negligently strikes a road worker during work hours. The injured worker in such an accident may be able to seek personal injury damages in civil court from the negligent third-party driver. However, the worker will also be able to receive workers' compensation.

If you have received third party money for your workplace injuries, it will not eliminate your ability to collect workers' compensation benefits. In fact, New Jersey Workers' Compensation Law allows for the collection of third party money. However, the injured worker will not be permitted to collect duplicate benefits related to the same disability and/or injury.

If a third party settlement exceeds or equals the total amount of workers' compensation benefits, then the insurance carrier or employer responsible for paying workers' compensation will receive a credit of two-thirds the amount payable minus $750.00. Meanwhile, if a third party settlement is less than the total amount of workers' compensation benefits, the credit will usually be two-thirds of the total third party settlement minus $750.00. If workers' compensation benefits have yet to be paid, then the amount owed to the injured worker by the employer will be lowered by the dollar amount of the credits.

New Jersey workers who suffer serious on-the-job injuries can, in most cases, qualify for workers' compensation benefits. As for other kinds of compensation claims that can be made, workers may want to discuss the possibility of making a third-party claim with the lawyers who are handling their cases.

Source: Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "Worker FAQ," accessed Sep. 22, 2016

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