Employers are entitled to credit an employee’s third-party liability award against future workers’ compensation benefits for which they may be responsible, Connecticut’s Supreme Court said in a ruling released Tuesday, July 13.
In Janice Thomas v. Department of Developmental Services et al., Thomas argued that a lien provision in Connecticut law applies only to workers’ comp benefits that an employer already has paid and not to future benefits.
The provision entitles an employer that is paying workers’ comp benefits to place a lien against any third-party judgment or settlement that an employee receives, court records state.
Thomas filed a workers’ comp claim after falling on an icy sidewalk leading to her workplace in 2004. She also filed a third-party lawsuit that was settled for $45,000.
After the settlement, a dispute arose over the lien issue in Connecticut law.
In 2007, a workers’ compensation commissioner ruled in favor of Thomas, finding the state agency was not entitled to credit her third-party award against future workers’ comp benefits it could be obligated to pay.
But a compensation review board overturned the commissioner’s finding.
In the Tuesday ruling, the Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the board’s decision, ruling that “well-established public policy” in the law says that “double compensation for an injury is to be avoided.”