Wisma Antoine, from Lakeland, Florida, suffered serious injuries as a result of a truck accident on I-75 in Manatee County. The accident happened when Nicole Lachance, of Lehigh Acres, attempted a lane change going southbound. As her 2003 Volkswagen Beetle went from the center lane to the left lane, she struck a 2011 Mazda 6 driven by Elizabeth Borer. Borer’s vehicle then spun around at the same time Lachance’s vehicle struck fuel tanker driven by Mr. Antoine. After impact, the fuel tanker truck spun out and flipped over, spilling over 500 gallons of fuel onto the roadway. Clearly, Ms. Lachance made an improper lane change in violation of section 316.085(2), Fla. Stat.
Interplay of Workers Compensation and Automobile Coverage
Since Mr. Antoine was driving a commercial vehicle and was on the job at the time of this accident, his medical expenses will be covered by his company’s workers compensation coverage. Additionally, workers compensation will also likely have to pay Mr. Antoine a lump sump settlement because he is likely to have suffered a permanent injury as a result of this incident.
Workers Compensation Has a Right of Subrogation on Settlement
Under Florida law, a workers compensation carrier has a right of subrogation or reimbursement against any settlement that an injured worker receives from a third party who may be responsible for causing the injury in the first place. In this particular case, the policy limits that Ms. Lachance has are likely below the value of Mr. Antoine’s total damages.
Settle or File a Lawsuit Within 1 Year
Mr. Antoine should immediately hire his own counsel and pursue policy limits. If he does not bring his own claim within one year timeframe, then the workers compensation carrier can file its own lawsuit against the at-fault driver to collect its damages (see section 440.39, Fla. Stat.). An experienced personal injury attorney will have this case either resolved by that deadline or will have a lawsuit filed so that the injured person does not lose control of the claim.
Hire an Attorney to Resolve the Workers Compensation Lien
As mentioned above, the workers compensation carrier can assert a right of subrogation or reimbursement against any settlement that Mr. Antoine gets. A Lakeland personal injury attorney can help collect as much as possible from the at-fault driver’s insurance company and can bring a claim for equitable apportionment under section 768.76, Fla. Stat. (collateral source rule). Under Florida’s collateral source statute, the workers compensation carrier has to make a reduction for its respective pro rata share of procurement costs (the injured worker’s attorney fees and costs) as well as reductions for other factors such as limited policy limits. This is a case where hiring the right personal injury attorney will prevent a situation where there is a settlement but the injured person is left holding the bag. At Russo Law, we can help you get a complicated case resolved in the best way possible.