What Is ‘Subrogation’ In Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Cases?
Most employees in Pennsylvania are covered by workers’ compensation. Thus, when an employee sustains injuries in a workplace accident or develops an occupational disease, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
But many workers do not fully understand how Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation works. One of the most confusing aspects of workers’ compensation is “subrogation.” In plain terms, subrogation means that workers’ compensation carriers can collect repayment for the benefits they paid to an injured employee.
Contact a Harrisburg workers’ compensation attorney if you are seeking benefits for your work-related injury or illness. Our skilled lawyers at Ira H. Weinstock, P.C., will help you deal with subrogation and other aspects of the workers’ compensation claims process in Pennsylvania.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim vs. Third-Party Injury Claim
Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means injured employees are entitled to benefits without having to prove anyone’s fault. In exchange for the benefits, the injured worker waives their right to file a lawsuit against their employer.
However, if a third party was responsible for the worker’s injury, the injured employee can bring an injury claim against the at-fault third party. In fact, a worker can file a third-party injury claim in addition to seeking workers’ compensation benefits through their employer’s insurance carrier.
The most significant benefit of pursuing a third-party injury claim is that it allows the injured worker to recover additional compensation beyond the expenses that standard workers’ compensation covers.
But what do third-party claims have to do with workers’ compensation subrogation in Pennsylvania? We will explain in a bit.
What is Workers’ Compensation Subrogation?
If an injured employee files a third-party injury claim and successfully obtains compensation, the workers’ compensation insurance company that covered the employee’s medical expenses and lost wages will have a right to seek reimbursement for the benefits it paid out to the employee.
In fact, subrogation claims do not have any time limits, which means insurance carriers can collect repayment for the benefits they paid out to an injured worker years ago. Basically, the purpose of workers’ compensation subrogation is to prevent double recovery from filing both a workers’ compensation and third-party claim.
It is not uncommon for employers in Pennsylvania to ask third parties, including contractors, to waive any rights to workers’ compensation subrogation when they work at their facilities as a condition of their work contract.
Pennsylvania Provides Immunity from Workers’ Compensation Subrogation
In a landmark decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that future medical expenses are immune from subrogation. The Supreme Court held that “installment payments” were limited to the injured employee’s wage loss benefits, explaining that future medical expenses are “unknown at the time of settlement.”
The Supreme Court also granted immunity from subrogation to government entities and other public employers in Pennsylvania. In other words, if you prevail in your third-party injury case against a government entity, you can keep the full amount of your personal injury settlement without any subrogation.
If you won a personal injury claim against a negligent third party while receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you might fear that the insurance company will get reimbursed for the benefits it paid out. Contact a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your unique situation.
Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Ira H. Weinstock, P.C., to determine whether or not your personal injury settlement is subject to workers’ compensation subrogation. Call 717-238-1657 for a case review.