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Written by: Matthew Flammia
In North Carolina, an injured employee may recover damages from both the workers’ compensation carrier as well as a third-party tortfeasor. In accepted claims, where a third-party causes the compensable injury, the workers’ compensation carrier is provided an automatic lien against any third-party recovery that the injured employee receives arising out of the compensable incident. North Carolina General Statute § 97-10.2 even creates a right for the workers’ compensation carrier to seek subrogation against the third party independently.
According to the statute, the injured employee has the exclusive right to file a suit against the third-party for twelve (12) months. Thereafter, the workers’ compensation carrier has the right to file a subrogation claim until sixty (60) days before the expiration of the statute of limitations. Finally, the injured employee and workers’ compensation carrier can always work together and jointly pursue the third-party claim.
If there has been an accepted workers’ compensation claim caused by a third-party tortfeasor, insurance carriers may have subrogation rights, and there is a chance that an insurer could recover some of the money paid towards the claim. If the injury is caused by third-party negligence, immediately place all parties on notice of the insurer’s subrogation rights and begin to investigate the claim on the best way to recover money paid towards the claim.