by Lenin V. Perez
The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) provides that the Department of Labor (through the Office of Workers’ Compensation or its Office of the Solicitor) has the right to recover from a third party expenses incurred when a federal employee is injured or killed as a result of that third party’s negligence, recklessness or intention.
A third party is a person or business other than the employee or the U.S. government. Examples of injuries in which a third party may be responsible are dog bites, slip and fall injuries on a patron’s property, or vehicle accidents.
The OWCP or Office of the Solicitor has the right to require an employee or survivor to initiate a legal action against a third party, or to assign the right to do so to the United States (the Postal Service is the one agency that has the right to pursue assignments of legal claims against third parties).
The employee or survivor is required to sue third parties in virtually all cases in which a valid claim against a third party may exist. Compensation payments will be suspended and the employee or survivor will be required to pay back any benefits received from OWCP if the employee or survivor refuses to initiate legal action against a third party or assign the right to do so to the United States.
The employee or survivor is entitled to 20% of any recovery amount after legal expenses, personal property losses and court costs are deducted. The remainder is turned over to OWCP, but the employee or survivor is also entitled to any money remaining after OWCP subtracts the amount it has paid out less a proportionate amount for attorney fees.
The OWCP or Office of the Solicitor has the right to require an employee or survivor to settle a legal action taken against a third party. In cases where OWCP expenses exceed the amount for court costs, attorney fees and the 20% to which an employee is entitled, approval of OWCP or Office of Solicitor is required before any settlement is finalized.
The OWCP has the right to require the reimbursement from any third party recovery of all expenses it pays out for the benefit of the employee or survivor. Therefore, an employee or survivor or his/her attorney must obtain the approval of OWCP or Office of the Solicitor before distribution or use of a third party recovery.
Federal agencies have the authority to pursue monetary damages in third party cases with the exceptions of cases involving occupational diseases, death, and certain specified third party injuries which are handled by OWCP or its Office of the Solicitor.
Call Federal Workers Compensation Consultants today for a free initial consultation at 813-931-1984
Federal Workers Compensation Consultants
Workers Compensation and Disability Retirement Specialists
9639 N. Armenia Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33612
Se Habla Espanol – 813-931-1984