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Work-related personal injury claims and subrogation

Although many drunk driving accidents take place late at night when bars and other drinking establishments close, you can be involved in an accident with a drunk driver at any time, including during work hours.

If you are injured by a drunk driver while driving for a work-related matter, this raises the question of how, or whether you can pursue a legal claim against the other driver while at the same time collect workers' compensation benefits? The answer to this question can be summed up with one word: "subrogation."

To begin with, if you are injured on the job, including while traveling on a matter connected with your work, then as long as your claim is qualified for workers' compensation you can make a claim for benefits even if a third party, such as a drunk driver, is to blame for the harm that was done to you.

There is nothing in workers' compensation law to prevent you from filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. Sometimes, you may need to make a legal claim to compensate you for losses that can go beyond what workers' compensation benefits pay.

On the other hand, it can be considered unfair to allow a person to effectively collect twice for injuries, once from workers' compensation, then again from a successful personal injury lawsuit.

Subrogation is the legal mechanism to prevent such double recovery from happening. What subrogation does is to allow the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation to recover from a lawsuit, award amounts that it paid to you via workers' compensation benefits based on the same injury.

For example, assume that you win an award or settlement for $1 million against a drunk driver, and have received workers' compensation benefits of $350,000 based on the same accident. Subrogation allows the BWC to take $350,000 from the award or settlement, while you keep the remaining $650,000.

To learn more about how subrogation works, as well as about other aspects of third-party personal injury claims connected with employment, check with a personal injury law firm or with the BWC.

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