In a recent crash on the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles, a motorcycle accident tied up carpool lanes and slowed traffic down to stop and go on the busy road. The accident involved a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer. At the time of the report, the cause of the accident was undetermined. Therefore, we have a blank slate that allows for a brief lesson in third party liability.
What’s important to look at in this case is what factors contributed to the crash, as well as whether or not the officer was on duty at the time. We’ll assume that the officer was on duty at the time of the crash and that a negligent driver caused the crash. In our scenario, the driver of the car was texting while driving and drifted into the lane of traffic in which the motorcycle officer was traveling, clipping the motorcycle and causing the bike to go down. Imagine the sinking feeling in the pit of the driver’s stomach when realizing that he or she just hit a LAPD motorcycle officer!
Our next step is to determine if worker’s compensation coverage is applicable. Let’s look at the facts. First, the officer was on duty at the time of the accident. Second, the officer had not committed any criminal acts relative to the accident that would place him outside of the scope of his employment duties. Therefore, the LAPD worker’s compensation insurance does pay for any injuries and damages the officer suffered in the accident. The settlement is formulaic, meaning that the Commissionon Health and Safety and ‘ sets forth formulas that determine settlement amounts in worker’s compensation cases.
So does this mean that the driver of the vehicle gets off scott-free? Absolutely not!
The officer can pursue a personal injury “third party” claim against the driver of the vehicle. Further, the worker’s compensation carrier has a right to reimbursement of the sums expended in the worker’s compensation claim. The legal term for this is “subrogation.” The worker’s compensation carrier can place a lien against any settlement or jury verdict awarded the officer in the third party claim.
Simply put, the driver of the vehicle is responsible for the injuries and damages sustained by the officer, and the worker’s compensation carrier has a right to repayment for the monies it paid out on behalf of the officer. The worker’s compensation carrier can place a subrogation lien against the officer (the plaintiff) or the driver (the defendant). It is generally preferable that the lien be placed against the plaintiff because the amount to be paid back can be negotiated in order to maximize the amount the plaintiff receives in his or her pocket from the settlement or jury award.
If you have been injured in a California motorcycle accident, please feel free to call our California motorcycle accident lawyer, Samer Habbas, for a consultation on your legal options. When you retain our professional services, you should expect and deserve our best efforts. We are here to serve you. You can reach us at 888-848-5084 or you can submit a contact form online here for a quick response.