Getting a Recovery for an Accident While Working for the Federal Government; Hillary Clinton Fractures Her Elbow Going to the White House

Yesterday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fractured her elbow on the way to the White House. 

Last week the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, fractured her ankle while catching a flight to Washington, DC.  See our story on Judge Sotomayor here.

Secretary of State Clinton is expected to have surgery, an open reduction with internal fixation.  In comparison, the Judge’s fracture did not require surgery;  her treatment consisted of a closed reduction.  We wish them both full recoveries.

It is a coincidence that both were injured in the course of their employment.   Judge Sotomayor was going to the equivalent of  interviews for a job promotion with members of the Senate.  Secretary Clinton was going to meet the “boss” at the White House.  Both would be entitled to medical and lost income benefits under the federal government’s equivalent of workers’ compensation in that they were injured while working.

Federal government employees have an equivalent of New York workers’ compensation.  United States employees injured in the course of their employment are entitled to medical coverage and lost income during their recovery.

We have had US government employee-clients who have been injured while working.  

The federal equivalent of workers’ compensation precludes the federal employee from suing his employer, the USA.  Also, the injured employee cannot sue a fellow employee.  This is similar to New York’s workers’ compensation law.  However, a federal employee may have a lawsuit against a third-party who caused the accident.   

For example,

  • the operator of a post office truck may sue the owner of the private truck that struck his USPO vehicle;
  • the letter carrier may sue the homeowner when he is bitten by the dog; and
  • the federal employee who is injured in a car accident may sue the other vehicle even where the government employee was using his private vehicle on federal business.  

Therefore, Judge Sotomayor and Secretary Clinton may have valid third-party actions.  However, I doubt that they will pursue lawsuits, and I doubt that they will call me for a free consultation. 

In any event, if you are employed by the US government and have been injured in an accident, please feel free to call me at 800-581-1434 or write to for a free consultation.

Mark E. Seitelman, 6/18/09,


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