The California Court of Appeal issued an unpublished opinion recently in a lawsuit involving a car accident that occurred when a driver crashed his vehicle through a restaurant and injured a restaurant employee. The employee received workers’ compensation benefits and medical expenses. She then pursued a civil claim against the driver. The issue in the case was whether the workers’ compensation insurer for the employer had a right to recover compensation from a third party that had been released from liability by the insured individual. The lower court had held that since the injured employee had not recovered damages from the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, the workers’ compensation insurer had no right to reimbursement for benefits paid to the employee.
The restaurant’s workers’ compensation insurance company paid her $18,388.15 in workers’ compensation benefits and medical expenses. The employee then sued the driver for damages. The insurer filed a complaint in intervention, seeking to recover benefits paid to the employee.