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Worker’s Compensation for the Colorado State Trooper: Personal Injury and Subrogation (Part 2 of 3)

By Burg Simpson
February 19, 2015
4 min read

At Burg Simpson, we often represent members of the Colorado State Patrol who are involved in Worker’s Compensation cases. The information contained within this article could significantly impact you and your family if you were to be involved in a motor vehicle accident. As a State Trooper, you spend an extraordinary amount of time in your vehicle. As a result, you are statistically more likely to be involved in a serious car accident. This 3-part blog series is intended to address some of the questions that often arise in the course of those discussions.

Part 1: U-Coverage and How it Affects You

What is subrogation?

If you have a workers’ compensation injury that is due to another person’s negligence, workers’ compensation is allowed by law to seek recovery from the money they provided in the course of your workers’ compensation claim. As a result, workers’ compensation gets to seek reimbursement out of the recovery you receive from the personal injury case against the at-fault driver. This is referred to as workers’ compensation’s subrogation interest.

For example: You are injured in a car accident when another driver runs a stop sign and crashes into your Patrol car while you are on duty. As a result, you have a workers’ compensation claim and a separate personal injury action against the at-fault driver. Now let’s apply this situation to the various scenarios outlined below.

Scenario 1
As a result of your injuries, workers’ compensation has paid $50,000 in medical and financial benefits. You then sue the at-fault driver and receive $75,000 in a settlement. By law, workers’ compensation gets to request reimbursement for the $50,000 they have already provided in workers’ compensation benefits. Therefore, after workers’ compensation invokes their subrogation rights, you may be left with only $25,000 in recovery from the personal injury case.

$75,000 (personal injury recovery) – $50,000 (workers’ compensation’s subrogation) = $25,000 (your remaining recovery)

Scenario 2
As a result of your injuries, workers’ compensation has paid $50,000 in medical and financial benefits. You then sue the at-fault driver who only has the required state minimum of $25,000 in auto insurance coverage. Workers’ compensation invokes their subrogation rights to be reimbursed for the $50,000 they have provided in benefits. In this scenario, workers’ compensation may be entitled to the $25,000 in recovery from the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy, leaving you no recovery outside of workers’ compensation.

$25,000 (personal injury recovery) – $50,000 (workers’ compensation’s subrogation) = $0 (your remaining recovery) and a $25,000 loss for workers’ compensation

Scenario 3
As a result of your injuries, workers’ compensation has paid $50,000 in medical and financial benefits. The at-fault driver has NO car insurance. In this scenario workers’ compensation has no opportunity to seek any recovery of their subrogation rights and you have no opportunity to recover outside of the workers’ compensation claim.

$0 (personal injury recovery) – $50,000 (workers’ compensation’s subrogation) = $0 (your remaining recovery) and a $50,000 loss for workers’ compensation

How does subrogation apply to U-coverage?

Workers’ compensation is NOT allowed to invoke any subrogation rights against your U-coverage.

Scenario 4
As a result of your injuries, workers’ compensation has paid $50,000 in medical and financial benefits. You then sue the at-fault driver who only has the state minimum $25,000 in required auto coverage. Workers’ compensation invokes their subrogation rights to be reimbursed for the $50,000 they provided in benefits. In this scenario, workers’ compensation may be entitled to the $25,000 in recovery from the at-fault driver leaving you no recovery outside of workers’ compensation. However, let’s assume that you also have $100,000 in U-coverage. This will allow you to pursue the additional $100,000 and workers’ compensation cannot invoke any claims against that money. This is true even though workers’ compensation has only recovered $25,000 out of the $50,000 of benefits they provided in the workers’ compensation claim.

$25,000 (personal injury recovery) – $50,000 (workers’ compensation’s subrogation) = $0 (your remaining recovery from the personal injury case) and a $25,000 loss for workers’ compensation

However, with U-coverage you now have the ability to recover $100,000 for which workers’ compensation has no subrogation claim.

Scenario 5
As a result of your injuries, workers’ compensation has paid $50,000 in medical and financial benefits. You then sue the at-fault driver who has NO coverage. In this scenario, let’s assume that you also have $100,000 in U-coverage. As a result, you are able to recover $100,000 from your U-policy and workers’ compensation has no opportunity to recover any of their subrogation amount of $50,000.

$0 (personal injury recovery) – $50,000 (workers’ compensation’s subrogation) = $0 (your remaining recovery from the personal injury claim) and a $50,000 loss for workers’ compensation.

However, with U-coverage you now have the ability to recover $100,000 for which workers’ compensation has no subrogation claim.

This information is not to be interpreted as providing legal services nor as proposing any form of legal advice. You should always consult with an attorney regarding any potential legal action or application of insurance policies.

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