Postal Worker PIP and Workers Compensation

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in .

“I’m a postal worker hurt on the job in a motor vehicle crash.

Do I have to repay my workers comp from any settlement money I get from the accident?”

There’s bad news and good news on that issue. Remember, the situation discussed below applies only to federal workers, not to state workers compensation situations. We are also talking about situations where another driver was at fault—if you are at fault, none of this will apply to you.

Postal workers and many other federal employees have workers comp through the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). If you are a worker covered under FECA, and are hurt on the job (no matter who is at fault), your FECA benefits pay medical and wage loss expenses. If the other person was at fault, you may also have a liability claim for money damages for pain and suffering, which would be over and above the medical and wage loss claims. Your pain and suffering claim would go against the insurance for the driver who caused the injury, not your FECA policy.

If you are in an injury incident involving a motor vehicle in Michigan, and you were on the job when this happened, you may also qualify for no-fault benefits through your own car insurance policy, even if you weren’t in your own car. Initially, your auto carrier will decline to pay any medical or wage loss claims from the accident—the insurance company will say that FECA has to pay those, since you were on the job when you were hurt.

But the FECA law says that you have to repay FECA for any medical and wage loss benefits you receive if you are injured on the job and you receive a settlement or other money from the person who caused your injuries. This may result in a situation where the amount FECA paid out to you or for your expenses is greater than the amount of the settlement. You would end up getting nothing in that situation, if that’s the way things worked.

Now the good news. Because the FECA benefits can be taken back out of any settlement you receive, if that happens, you can then apply to your no-fault insurance to have that company reimburse you for the amount you had to repay to FECA. The reasoning behind this is that, if you had to repay the benefits, you ended up not really getting any benefits. The case (if it is a Michigan case) ends up being a standard no-fault claim, where your own insurance company (or whichever company is highest priority in your situation) has to pay the benefits for auto-related wage loss and medical bills.

Conclusion

Your lawyer would first work out repaying FECA from your settlement. Then an agreement would be reached to have the no-fault company pay you back whatever amount was taken out of your settlement to repay FECA.

As you can see, this gets a bit complicated, but it is something that can be worked out through careful case management and proper negotiation.

Source: 431 Mich 164

Steven Matz

Written By Steven Matz

Steven Matz
Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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