The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has joined a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Pike Township in a matter filed by a commercial truck driver. The workers’ comp board was initially named as a defendant in the lawsuit but has since swapped sides to support the plaintiff’s claim. The lawsuit involves a Township employee who is allegedly guilty of negligence that injured the plaintiff.
When you’re injured on the job, you have a number of remedies at your disposal. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that pays out when you’re injured on the job. However, when your injury is wholly or partly the result of a third party’s negligence, rather than entirely due to the negligence of your employer, you can file a lawsuit against the third party.
In this case, the plaintiff was afraid that workers’ compensation would subrogate (or substitute) his claims against the Township and place a levy on any damages he recovered. The workers’ compensation system instead filed a motion to realign themselves with the plaintiff and support their claim against the Township’s worker.
The Township’s response
In response to the lawsuit, the Township is denying allegations that its tractor driver was negligent, causing the accident. The workers’ compensation board is entitled to recoup about $60,000 in paid expenses to the plaintiff. Since the plaintiff’s interests are aligned with the workers’ compensation board, the workers’ compensation board will be advocating that the Township is legally responsible for the workers’ injuries so that they can recoup their $60,000. While the plaintiff’s settlement will be $60,000 lighter, he would be entitled to potentially four times that amount in a personal injury settlement, depending on the state’s rules regarding sovereign immunity.
Since the matter involves government agencies, statutory restrictions apply to damage awards. In most states, the cap on damages against the government is around $250,000. Nonetheless, that is significantly more than the plaintiff would be entitled to recover under workers’ compensation which is generally limited to medical expenses and a fractional portion of your lost wages.
The accident that gave rise to the dispute involves construction work done on a blind curve. The plaintiff claims that the construction crews did nothing to alert drivers ahead and when he attempted to move his vehicle as far as the right as he could, the road gave way causing his truck to topple over an embankment. He holds the Township liable for the accident and his injuries.
The Township’s trustees contend that they cannot be held individually liable for the negligence of their employee due to qualified and/or absolute immunity. So there are a number of matters in this case that need to be sorted before the plaintiff can collect his damages award.
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