Workers’ Compensation Benefits Combined With Other Payouts

Workers’ Compensation Benefits Combined With Other Payouts

If you were injured at work in Minnesota, you might have already looked into a workers’ compensation claim—good! You might have also looked into making a personal injury claim against someone else—for example, another driver, if you were injured in a road accident while working—who was responsible for your accident. But what happens if both claims are successful? Can you keep both awards of money?

First of all, successfully getting workers’ compensation benefits does not prevent you from bringing a lawsuit against a negligent third party. Additionally, your employer (or more likely your employer’s insurance company) still has to pay you your workers’ compensation money, even if the employer thinks you should also be suing someone else.

Where things get a little more tricky is when both of your claims are successful and you get two awards of money. The problem is that, in general, Minnesota law prohibits what is called “double recovery.” Although double recovery might sound pretty fun, the idea is that it’s unfair to get compensated twice for your injuries.

Because of this, Minnesota has something called a “Collateral Source Rule” (yes, it’s as exciting as it sounds). Say you get injured, then make a successful claim for workers’ compensation benefits, then bring a personal injury lawsuit against someone who was involved in your accident. You get an award of damages in the personal injury lawsuit. The collateral source rule requires the court to reduce your personal injury damages by the amount of the workers’ compensation benefits you received.

That doesn’t mean you can’t recover any money in the personal injury lawsuit. What the law requires is that your damages be reduced by workers’ compensation benefits that you’ve already received. But your personal injury damages might be more than what you received in your workers’ compensation claim. For example, you might receive a higher amount for lost earnings in the personal injury claim. In that case, you can keep (roughly) the amount of the difference between the personal injury damages and the workers’ compensation benefits. So, to be clear, that personal injury claim is definitely not pointless!

Workers' CompensationChristopher Rosengren
Rosengren, Kohlmeyer & Hagen Law Office Chtd.