Federal Employees Injured On The Job: Third-Party Claims
Office of the Solicitor General Letter
If you are an employee of the United States Government (USPS for example) and get injured on the job (as the result of a third-party’s negligence), chances are you will receive a letter from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor General, talking about a Third-Party Claim.
The letter explains that under FECA (5 U.S.C. 8131 and 8132, you are required to pursue a claim against the third-party responsible for your injuries. Any money recovered in a subsequent lawsuit or settlement will be used to reimburse the government for expenses they incurred as a result of your injury (temporary disability payments, medical treatment, etc.).
What does this mean? If you were injured while working, and the responsible party is someone other than the United States, you are required to pursue a claim against that party. In practice, this would involve calling the third-party’s insurance company and negotiating a settlement, or hiring an attorney to do so on your behalf.
Examples of Third-Party Claims
You were involved in a vehicular accident and the “other driver” was at fault.
You were attacked by a dog while delivering mail.
You injured yourself on a homeowner’s property due to some hazard hidden from plain sight.
FECA Benefits Jeopardized
Do not ignore the letter! Doing so could result in the loss of your FECA benefits. If you decide to pursue a claim on your own (or your claim is rejected by attorneys as too small), contact the Solicitor General before accepting any offer, even if it is larger than the benefits the government paid out on your behalf. It always better to be on the safe side when it comes to Uncle Sam.
Benefits of Pursuing a Claim
It is often the case that personal injury awards are larger than workers’ compensation awards. For example, dog bites generally do not cause permanent loss of use in the affected body part, thereby minimizing any workers’ compensation settlement. However, dog bites frequently cause permanent scarring and emotional distress. Any scarring resulting from a dog bite (especially scarring on women) is worth a great deal in a personal injury case—and justifiably so.
Even though the federal government must be repaid, there is generally plenty of money left over for the injured party.
Contact For a Free Consultation
You are required to pursue a claim, so you might as well call or email and I will provide you with free advice. In some instances there is no claim to pursue (for example: the statute of limitations bars recovery) and I am happy to assist you in preparing a letter to send the Solicitor General (for free). Do not procrastinate. Doing so could (1) jeopardize your FECA benefits and (2) require you to reimburse the government everything they paid on your behalf.