Case name: Broad v. Lewis, et al., No. 5:08CV366 (M.D. Ga. 12/14/09).
Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia granted a workers' compensation carrier's motion to intervene in a worker's lawsuit to enforce its subrogation rights.
What it means: In Georgia, a court may allow an insurance carrier to intervene in a worker's lawsuit where the carrier has an interest in the transaction that is the subject of the suit and its ability to protect its subrogation rights would be impaired by the outcome of the case. However, if the case is set for trial, the trial may be divided into two parts to avoid revealing to the jury that the employee has already recovered workers' compensation benefits for his injuries.
Summary: A truck driver was injured and received $119,500 in workers' compensation indemnity and medical benefits from his employer's carrier. He sued the driver of the other tractor-trailer, the driver's employer, and the other employer's insurer. His employer's carrier moved to intervene in the suit, asserting it had fully and completely compensated the driver and would be impaired if it did not intervene to enforce its subrogation lien. The court granted the motion but noted the worker's concern regarding the carrier's participation in his upcoming jury trial. The court ordered the trial be divided into two parts.
The court explained the first part of the trial would address the primary claims and utilize a special verdict form to determine "what recovery is returned for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering." The verdict form would then be used in the second part to determine whether the driver was fully and completely compensated by the carrier. The court noted that sectioning the trial would also prevent the jury from hearing that the driver had already collected compensation from a collateral source.
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January 28, 2010
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