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Third Party Liability Claims
As a federal worker, you are barred from suing the federal government for an injury sustained while performing your duties. You are generally limited to benefits under FECA only. However, if you’re injury was caused due to the negligence of an individual or entity who does not work for the federal government, you may be entitled to pursue a third-party action. A common example is an injury sustained when you are driving a government vehicle and struck by a third party who does not work for the federal government or when you are walking performing your duties and some object or condition causes you to trip and fall.
In this instance, you must still file an injury claim with OWCP. However, you can pursue monetary damages under a separate action but your ability to recover money is limited. FECA benefits do not include compensation for pain and suffering, but you may receive payment for pain and suffering from negligent third parties. OWCP will still pay for your medical bills and other expenses but you can independently pursue your claim as lawsuits may take several years to resolve. If you are successful in your action, federal law mandates that you reimburse OWCP for its expenses. The law in this area is very complicated and it is extremely important that your attorney understand how a recovery in a civil action is treated under FECA. Pursuing this with an attorney who is not also a specialist with OWCP may result in significant complications if both courses of recovery are not pursued simultaneously. Often times, the benefits from FECA greatly exceed what you can get from a 3rd party. Our firm regularly handles both of these types of cases and is mindful of your long term interests, not a quick settlement to satisfy a contingency fee for a lawyer.