Workers Compensation Newsletters
Historically, when an employee was injured in the course of his employment, but at the hands of a negligent third party, he was technically able to pursue relief through both the workers' compensation system and a third-party action. Though not able to receive a double recovery, the employee was technically eligible to recover under either theory. However, strict election rules required that he choose which theory of recovery he would pursue, even if his "choice" ultimately left him with no compensation at all. For example, the injured employee elects to proceed with a third-party action, thereby foregoing workers' compensation, but ends up losing the third-party action.
The purpose of the Jones Act of 1920, also known as the Merchant Marine Act, is to provide compensation for seamen who have been injured in the course of their employment. Like the Federal Employers' Liability Act for railroad workers, the Jones Act is an alternative to traditional workers' compensation statutes. The Jones Act allows an injured seaman to pursue a negligence action against his employer for money damages that represent, among other things, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Should the injury result in the seaman's death, the Jones Act also authorizes an action by the seaman's personal representative, with any damages recovered going to the seaman's spouse, children, or parents as the case may be.
As a correlative step in its disability evaluation, the Social Security Administration examines an individual's residual functional capacity (RFC). The nature of the individual's impairment(s) will determine to what degree his ability to work is impacted. The bedrock of the RFC assessment is what is the most that an individual can do; not the least. An individual's RFC is that remaining functionality that the individual has despite the limitations caused by his impairment. An RFC assessment is made based on all the evidence, which may include the individual's own account of his limitations, observations by physicians, psychologists, friends, neighbors, and the like, work attempt records, and the individual's medical records.
When a worker is injured during and in the course of his employment, but due to the negligence of a third party, the issue of a double recovery arises. Many jurisdictions statutorily prohibit a double recovery. Though the worker may collect both workers' compensation benefits as well as damages based on his third party action, he must reimburse the employer for the workers' compensation benefits he received.
Criteria for obtaining workers' compensation benefits: the employee's injury must be a product of his employment and must have occurred while fulfilling the functions of his job or benefitting the interests of the employer.