Insurance companies and workers' compensation

If you suffer a Work Injury due to the negligence of somebody other than your employer can the Workers' Compensation Insurance Carrier sue the person that caused your injuries even if you don't? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Liberty Mutual v. Domtar Paper going to decide that exact question, as to whether a workers' compensation insurance company can bring a lawsuit against a 3d party tortfeasor for injuries caused to a worker who suffers an injury in the course of his employment if the injured worker doesn't.

The law is clear in Pennsylvania that an injured worker who suffers a Work Injury as a result of someone other than his employer (as an example think of a delivery driver T-boned in a motor vehicle accident) can sue the 3rd party tort-feasor for injuries sustained in the accident. The injured worker being the 1st party, the employer being the 2nd party and the person who caused the accident the 3rd party.

The law is also clear that the Workers' Compensation Insurance carrier has an absolute right to sub rotation. Meaning that if the injured worker received workers' compensation payments or payments are made by the workers' compensation insurance carrier for medical treatment and the injured worker is able to collect money from the person or their insurance carrier that caused the accident (3rd party tortfeasor) then the workers' compensation insurance carrier is entitled to some of the money the injured worker received from the 3rd party case. The general theory is you can't collect twice for the same injury.

There are multiple situations in which this arise. Examples may include a slip and fall on someones property as a result of a defect or negligence of the property owner in maintaining the property. Automobile accidents or Tractor Trailer Truck Accidents where a worker in the course of their employment suffers an injury as a result of someone else's negligence. Products liability cases where someone is working and the product caused the injury such as a defective machine or safety device that results in a worker losing their hand for instance. And so on.

However in the past where a third party's actions are the cause of the injury, and the injured worker opts not to pursue a claim against the 3rd party, the insurer has been barred from seeking reimbursement from the individual that caused the injury.

Now, in the case pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the court is going to decide whether a workers' compensation insurance carrier has the independent right to sue a negligent third party. A decision is expected in the next few weeks.

If you or a loved one has questions about a work injury, a motor vehicle crash or a car accident, a slip and fall accident or personal injury and/or subrogation call the lawyers at Dugan & Associates, Lawyers Representing Injured People. We Fight For The Check You Deserve! 1-800-772-5422 or 1-899-DUGAN.

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