Michael Williamson was driving a gasoline tanker truck when he died on April 23, 2003, after a truck driven by Arthur Asher crossed into oncoming traffic on an Illinois highway. The two vehicles collided, and both men died as a result of the crash. The truck company that owned the Williamson truck paid workers’ compensation benefits to Williamson’s widow, Mary Catherine Williamson, in the amount of $283,549.80.
In the meantime, the Williamson family brought a lawsuit against several defendants for the wrongful death of Michael. After a jury verdict was reduced, a recovery of $1 million plus 9% interest from State Farm Insurance was made. The total amount received was $1,503,506.85. It took six years to receive the funds.
The employer for Williamson then petitioned the court to seek not only its workers’ compensation lien of $283,549.80 less 25% for attorney fees and the prorated share of the costs, but also wanted interest that the Williamson family had received at 9% on the judgment.Interest on the jury verdict was $503,506.85.The trial judge denied the employer’s petition for interest on its workers’ compensation lien.
The Illinois Appellate Court found that the matter of employers earning interest on a workers’ compensation lien was not found in the statute. The court added that the statute’s intent was for the workers’ benefit.
In another case that served as precedent, the appellate court cited the case Kirk v. Walter E. Deuchler Associates, Inc., 96 Ill.App.3d 99 (1981). That case denied an employer’s attempt to gain a percentage of the employee’s interest in the ultimate legal recovery.
Further, the appellate court disregarded the employer’s contention that the interest on the third-party recovery by the worker’s family should be divided pro rata. The court stated that there was no legal authority stating the contention that the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act is merely there to provide reimbursement to employers and is not to allow the employer to recover interest on either the lien or the portion of the judgment that exceeds the lien.
For the reasons stated, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the Circuit Court’s decision limiting the employer’s recovery in this case.
Mary Catherine Williamson v. Carolyn Asher, et al., 2013 Ill.App. (1st) 122038 (June 24, 2013).
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling workers injury cases, construction accident cases and automobile cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Andersonville), Chicago (Chatham), Chicago (East Village), Chicago (Greektown), Northfield, Chicago (Roscoe Village), Chicago (Wrigleyville), Barrington, Downers Grove, Forrest Park, Geneva, Gurnee, Homewood and LaGrange, Ill.
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