Compensation for injuries where third persons are liable
Election of remedies
If on account of a disability or death for which compensation is payable under this chapter the person entitled to such compensation determines that some person other than the employer or a person or persons in his employ is liable in damages, he need not elect whether to receive such compensation or to recover damages against such third person.
Acceptance of compensation operating as assignment
Acceptance of compensation under an award in a compensation order filed by the deputy commissioner, an administrative law judge, or the Board shall operate as an assignment to the employer of all rights of the person entitled to compensation to recover damages against such third person unless such person shall commence an action against such third person within six months after such acceptance. If the employer fails to commence an action against such third person within ninety days after the cause of action is assigned under this section, the right to bring such action shall revert to the person entitled to compensation. For the purpose of this subsection, the term “award” with respect to a compensation order means a formal order issued by the deputy commissioner, an administrative law judge, or Board.
Payment into section 944 fund operating as assignment
The payment of such compensation into the fund established in section 944 of this title shall operate as an assignment to the employer of all right of the legal representative of the deceased (hereinafter referred to as “representative”) to recover damages against such third person.
Institution of proceedings or compromise by assignee
Such employer on account of such assignment may either institute proceedings for the recovery of such damages or may compromise with such third person either without or after instituting such proceeding.
Recoveries by assignee
Any amount recovered by such employer on account of such assignment, whether or not as the result of a compromise, shall be distributed as follows:
The employer shall retain an amount equal to—
(A) the expenses incurred by him in respect to such proceedings or compromise (including a reasonable attorney’s fee as determined by the deputy commissioner or Board);
(B) the cost of all benefits actually furnished by him to the employee under section 907 of this title;
(C) all amounts paid as compensation;
(D) the present value of all amounts thereafter payable as compensation, such present value to be computed in accordance with a schedule prepared by the Secretary, and the present value of the cost of all benefits thereafter to be furnished under section 907 of this title, to be estimated by the deputy commissioner, and the amounts so computed and estimated to be retained by the employer as a trust fund to pay such compensation and the cost of such benefits as they become due, and to pay any sum finally remaining in excess thereof to the person entitled to compensation or to the representative; and
(2) The employer shall pay any excess to the person entitled to compensation or to the representative.
Institution of proceedings by person entitled to compensation
If the person entitled to compensation institutes proceedings within the period prescribed in subsection (b) the employer shall be required to pay as compensation under this chapter a sum equal to the excess of the amount which the Secretary determines is payable on account of such injury or death over the net amount recovered against such third person. Such net amount shall be equal to the actual amount recovered less the expenses reasonably incurred by such person in respect to such proceedings (including reasonable attorneys’ fees).
Compromise obtained by person entitled to compensation
(1) If the person entitled to compensation (or the person’s representative) enters into a settlement with a third person referred to in subsection (a) for an amount less than the compensation to which the person (or the person’s representative) would be entitled under this chapter, the employer shall be liable for compensation as determined under subsection (f) only if written approval of the settlement is obtained from the employer and the employer’s carrier, before the settlement is executed, and by the person entitled to compensation (or the person’s representative). The approval shall be made on a form provided by the Secretary and shall be filed in the office of the deputy commissioner within thirty days after the settlement is entered into.
(3) Any payments by the special fund established under section 944 of this title shall be a lien upon the proceeds of any settlement obtained from or judgment rendered against a third person referred to under subsection (a). Notwithstanding any other provision of law, such lien shall be enforceable against such proceeds, regardless of whether the Secretary on behalf of the special fund has agreed to or has received actual notice of the settlement or judgment.
(4) Any payments by a trust fund described in section 917 of this title shall be a lien upon the proceeds of any settlement obtained from or judgment recorded against a third person referred to under subsection (a). Such lien shall have priority over a lien under paragraph (3) of this subsection.
Where the employer is insured and the insurance carrier has assumed the payment of the compensation, the insurance carrier shall be subrogated to all the rights of the employer under this section.
Right to compensation as exclusive remedy
The right to compensation or benefits under this chapter shall be the exclusive remedy to an employee when he is injured, or to his eligible survivors or legal representatives if he is killed, by the negligence or wrong of any other person or persons in the same employ: Provided, That this provision shall not affect the liability of a person other than an officer or employee of the employer.
(Mar. 4, 1927, ch. 509, § 33, 44 Stat. 1440; June 25, 1938, ch. 685, §§ 12, 13, 52 Stat. 1168; Pub. L. 86–171, Aug. 18, 1959, 73 Stat. 391; Pub. L. 92–576, § 15(f)–(h), Oct. 27, 1972, 86 Stat. 1262; Pub. L. 98–426, § 21, Sept. 28, 1984, 98 Stat. 1652.)