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Seeking workers’ compensation benefits for workplace asbestos exposure, P.3

We’ve been looking in recent posts at seeking workers’ compensation benefits for asbestos-related diseases and how this compares to pursuing damages against manufacturers of asbestos-containing products in court. Last time, we mentioned that one of the considerations in determining what type of compensation to pursue is how that compensation will affect other forms of compensation that may be received for asbestos-related diseases.

One issue to consider in cases where both a workers’ compensation claim and a tort claim against a third-party manufacturer are filed is subrogation. With respect to workers’ compensation insurers, this refers to the right to recover losses for the costs of workers’ compensation benefits paid out to injured workers from any tort damages awarded to the injured worker. 

Because of subrogation, injured employees are not able to derive full benefit from both workers’ compensation benefits and damages awards from third parties. This doesn’t mean that an individual who has received workers’ compensation benefits for asbestos exposure at work should not pursue a third party claim, but that an offset of recovery can generally be expected. One important point about subrogation is that workers are required to provide their employer notice of pending suits against third parties and before settling with a third party, or they risk losing workers’ compensation benefits.

Another potential issue to consider with workers’ compensation claims for asbestos exposure is how the receipt of these benefits will affect Social Security Disability benefits, which can be another important source of support for victims of asbestos exposure. The long and short of it is that receipt of workers’ compensation benefits can reduce Social Security benefits. The same is generally not true of damages received from third party manufacturers of asbestos-containing products. This is an issue that should be kept in mind as well when determining how to seek recovery for work-related asbestos exposure.

Sources:

RS 23:1101-1103

Social Security Administration, “How Workers’ Compensation and Other Disability Payments May Affect Your Benefits,” Accessed June 21, 2017. 

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