Being sued separately by both injured and worker's compensation company in an at-fault accident.

Asked about 2 years ago - Los Angeles, CA

2 years ago, I was involved in an accident where I was one of 3 at-fault parties. The auto accident occurred when the injured was performing his job duties, so he filed worker’s comp for benefits. I was recently served a complaint that was filed by the injured party a few days before the statute of limitations was up. All 3 parties, me included, were named in the lawsuit. I have already sent my insurance company a copy of the complaint. I performed a court search online and found that a 2nd lawsuit had been filed against me & the other at-fault parties as well. The plaintiff in this 2nd lawsuit appears to be the injured’s worker’s comp company. I haven't been served with this 2nd lawsuit yet. Why are there 2 lawsuits? How does this work? Will us, the at-fault, end up paying 2 settlements?

Additional information

- my adjuster said that there was a lien, and that I and my spouse (which I don’t have one) would have liability. I thought the lien would be from the worker’s comp company against the settlement that the injured receives. Perhaps my adjuster said it wrong?
- I have read that lawsuits from individuals may often settle for the policy limits of the at-fault.
What is the likelihood that the worker’s comp company will accept a settlement below what they paid out, especially if the combined policy limits of all at-fault parties do not meet the amount they paid out?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Andrew Ronald Gillin

    Pro

    Contributor Level 13

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Even though they are filing separate lawsuits, which they are allowed to do, there will only be one settlement or judgment. Your liability insurance company will appoint a lawyer to defend both suits, at no charge to you. That lawyer will be more knowledgeable than the insurance adjuster. As long as the case settles, which most cases do, there will be a settlement that resolves all claims by both the injured party and the comp carrier. Good Luck.

  2. Frank Marvin Nunes

    Contributor Level 14

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Both the injured worker and worker's compensation carrier have rights to recoup their damages. The injured worker will file an action to recover damages foresee ably caused by another's negligence. The worker's compensation insurance company will see reimbursement, or indemnification, for the money it paid providing benefits to the injured worker. Since the workers compensation insurance company cannot force the injured worker to file suit, and the company has lots of money, they often file suit on their own before the 2 year statute of limitations runs in order to protect their legal rights. Once they see the workers compensation insurer has filed suit, they may consolidate the two cases into one. The lawyer hired by your insurance company will advise you on this case.

    The good news is if you have any claims against the person suing you, which would ordinarily be time barred, you can file a cross-complaint against the plaintiff. Let the attorney hired by your insurance company know if you plan to file a cross-complaint so she make sure your answer and cross-complaint are file at the same time.

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  3. Ronald Walter Kim

    Contributor Level 7

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . First, there can only be one recovery from you stemming out of the auto accident. Most likely the comp suit is for subrogation out of the personal injury case.

  4. Lars A. Lundeen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Since you are aware of a 2nd suit that has been filed against you, I suggest you provide your insurance company with notice of the 2nd suit. They have an obligation to defend you, regardless of the number of suits filed.

    Your insurance company will assign and pay for a defense attorney to represent you. Once you know the name of your defense attorney, write the attorney and request a face-to-face meeting at which time you can review the status of the entire matter, including the 2nd suit.

    Your defense attorney will be able to answer all of your questions. He is your attorney, even though he is being paid by your carrier.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

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