Florida Workers Compensation Lien
The workers’ compensation system is designed to provide injured employees with medical and wage loss benefits. Jones v. Martin Elecs., Inc., 932 So.2d, 1104 (Fla.2006).
If you are injured on the job or in the scope of your employment you may have a worker’s compensation claim against your employer/insurance company and you may also have a claim any negligent third-parties.
The injured employee has one year from the date of accident/injury to file a lawsuit against the negligent third-party. The employer, the party paying the worker’ compensation benefits has two years to bring suit. “At the end of the second year, the rights of action revert to the employee, but are (as before) subject to the employer or insurer’s subrogation and lien rights.” Luscomb v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 967 So. 2d 379, 381 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2007).
Although, you may have a workers’ compensation claim against your employer and a claim against any negligent third-party you will not be able to double dip. Florida Statute 440.39 (2020); Jones v. Martin Elecs., Inc., 932 So.2d 1100, 1108 (Fla.2006).
Florida Statute 440.39 (2020) mandates that an employer who has provided benefits to an injured employee is entitled to place a lien on a settlement from a third-party for the amount that the employer has paid in benefits. The employer can also elect to waive the lien. An employer providing workers’ compensation benefits to an injured employee can place a lien on any monies paid out for medical, wage loss benefits as well as future medical benefits that are part of an employee’s settlement with a negligent third-party. City of Lakeland v. Stapleton, 875 So. 2d 784 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004).
The amount the injured employee is required to pay the employer who provided workers’ compensation benefits is set forth in Manfredo v. Employer’s Cas. Ins. Co., 560 So. 2d 1162, 1165 (Fla. 1990). Third party settlement/recovery amount minus attorney fees and costs and medical bills outside of workers’ compensation divided by (/) full case value = the percentage payback to the workers’ compensation lien. Id.
Here’s the formula by way of a hypothetical example:
- WC lien (medical, indemnity, settlement, etc.): $ 100,000
- $ 250,000 third party settlement less fees (40%) and costs ($ 15,000) = $ 115,000 gives claimant a net of $135,000
- Full case value: $ 1,000,000. (The case was for less due to tough liability, coverage limits, comparative negligence.)
- $ 135,000 divided by $ 1,000,000 = 13.5%
- 13.5% of $ 100,000 = $ 13,500 is payable to the wc carrier.
The workers’ compensation employer recovers $ 13,500, 13.5%, of its $100,000 lien from the $250,000 third-party settlement.
Again, the employer paying out the worker’s compensation benefits can choose to waive the lien, but if they choose not to waive the lien they will be entitled to recover plus they will reduce future payments of medical and indemnity by 13.5% per our example. It is important to hire a law firm skilled in workers compensation and personal injury to ensure you, the injured employee, receive the maximum recovery. Call us at 954-772-2644 or link over to our website Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates to discuss more.