When there is a vehicle crash on the Airport Operations Area (AOA), or an accident inside the terminal, there can be several cases that arise out of the same incident. Furthermore, an airline or airport worker who is injured by an employee of another airport contract may have not only a workers’ compensation case, but also a third-party liability case.
Third-party liability means that someone who does not work for your company is at fault for negligently causing the harm. Having both kinds of cases can be complicated, and many injured workers mistakenly believe they only have one, or the other kind of case, because of bad advice from coworkers, friends and insurance representatives, resulting in their receipt of lesser benefits.
At the Herndon, Virginia law firm Abrams Landau, Ltd., we are often asked to assist in cases where the injured airport worker not only has their administrative state workers comp claim, but also a third-party liability case, that they can take to trial in front of a jury. At trial, these clients can receive significantly greater reimbursement for all the harms and losses caused by the unsafe third party defendant.
Workers’ compensation, in most states, only covers:
• related and authorized medical bills
• partial wage replacement
• and some out-of-pocket expenses for things, such as medications, mileage and medical equipment.
On the other hand, a third-party liability lawsuit can result in a jury’s verdict for:
• physical pain
• future loss of benefits, bonuses and raises
• mental suffering
• emotional distress
• loss of earnings capacity
• lifetime wage loss (and not at the 66% workers’ comp rate)
And, just like money in workers’ compensation, money in a third-party case is usually free of state local and federal taxes.
So, why might it be advantageous to settle the workers’ compensation case first?
If the workers’ compensation case does not settle before the third-party liability case, then the workers’ compensation insurance company not only gets paid back on their “IOU” for the money that they paid for medical care, wage loss, permanency, etc., but they also then get a “holiday” from further payment of “Full” workers’ compensation benefits.
In many Virginia cases where the workers’ comp claim does not settle first, the workers’ comp insurance carrier gets paid back on their statutory “IOU,” and then they only pay compensation benefits at $0.30-0.40 on the dollar, until such time as the injured worker uses up their “net recovery.” Furthermore, this $0.30-0.40 on the dollar is only paid quarterly, which means that the injured worker has to front all the money, and then wait at least several months before they have any hope of getting it repaid at that lower rate. Plus, that’s if the insurance company doesn’t dispute the medical care, the time off from work, permanency, etc. Settling the comp claim gives the injured worker a better negotiating position when it comes time to pay back the workers’ compensation lien (statutory IOU). Clearly, the person with the money is usually in a better bargaining position.
These cases can be complicated, and the timing of both cases requires legal help that is experienced in these types of cases and actually tries them. If you or someone you know or care for has been injured at the airport while on the job, please have them reach out to us, as we may be able to navigate both their workers’ compensation claim and the third-party liability lawsuit. You can call us at 703-796-9555 or email us here at Abrams Landau, Ltd.