(a) When the injury or death for which compensation is payable under this chapter is caused under circumstances creating a legal liability against some person other than the employer, the injured employee or those to whom such employee’s right of action survives at law may pursue the remedy by proper action in a court of competent jurisdiction against such other persons, except as precluded by Code Section 34-9-11 or otherwise.
(b) In the event an employee has a right of action against such other person as contemplated in subsection (a) of this Code section and the employer’s liability under this chapter has been fully or partially paid, then the employer or such employer’s insurer shall have a subrogation lien, not to exceed the actual amount of compensation paid pursuant to this chapter, against such recovery. The employer or insurer may intervene in any action to protect and enforce such lien. However, the employer’s or insurer’s recovery under this Code section shall be limited to the recovery of the amount of disability benefits, death benefits, and medical expenses paid under this chapter and shall only be recoverable if the injured employee has been fully and completely compensated, taking into consideration both the benefits received under this chapter and the amount of the recovery in the third-party claim, for all economic and noneconomic losses incurred as a result of the injury.
(c) Such action against such other person by the employee must be instituted in all cases within the applicable statute of limitations. If such action is not brought by the employee within one year after the date of injury, then the employer or such employer’s insurer may but is not required to assert the employee’s cause of action in tort, either in its own name or in the name of the employee. The employer or its insurer shall immediately notify the employee of its assertion of such cause of action, and the employee shall have a right to intervene. If after one year from the date of injury the employee asserts his or her cause of action in tort, then the employee shall immediately notify the employer or its insurer of his or her assertion of such cause of action, and the employer or its insurer shall have a right to intervene. In any case, if the employer or insurer recovers more than the extent of its lien, then the amount in excess thereof shall be paid over to the employee. For purposes of this subsection only, “employee” shall include not only the injured employee but also those persons in whom the cause of action in tort rests or survives for injuries to such employee.
(d) In the event of a recovery from such other person by the injured employee or those to whom such employee’s right of action survives by judgment, settlement, or otherwise, the attorney representing such injured employee or those to whom such employee’s right of action survives shall be entitled to a reasonable fee for services; provided, however, that if the employer or insurer has engaged another attorney to represent the employer or insurer in effecting recovery against such other person, then a court of competent jurisdiction shall upon application apportion the reasonable fee between the attorney for the injured employee and the attorney for the employer or insurer in proportion to services rendered. The provisions of Code Sections 15-19-14 and 15-19-15 shall apply.
(e) It is the express intent of the General Assembly that the provisions of subsection (c) of this Code section be applied not only prospectively but also retroactively to injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1992.