Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Decision on Workers’ Compensation

July 19, 2018

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in Pennsylvania State Police v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. The case concerned a Pennsylvania police officer who was injured while on duty when his police vehicle was struck by a tractor trailer. The court ruled that the Pennsylvania State Police cannot collect the workers’ compensation benefits that were paid to the injured trooper.

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act

Most Pennsylvania employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. The Act provides Pennsylvania employees with medical, wage loss, vocational rehabilitation, and specific loss benefits in the event they are injured at work. Death benefits are also available to families of workers who were fatally injured because of workplace accidents.

Under the Act, workers who miss more than seven days of work are eligible for a certain amount of wage loss benefits, depending on the type of injury they suffered. Workers who receive total disability receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage up to a capped amount set annually by the Department of Labor & Industry. They may receive benefits for 104 weeks, at which point the insurance company may require a medical examination to reassess the worker’s disability rating.

Workers who receive partial disability payments typically receive two-thirds of the difference between their pre-injury and post-injury wages. They continue to receive such benefits until they can earn their pre-injury wages or until 500 weeks of payments have passed, whichever comes first.

Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act

The Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act provides an exception to the two-thirds salary rule set forth by the state Workers’ Compensation Act. It allows certain public service employees, including police and fire personnel, to collect their full salary until they can return to work.

In this case, the on-duty police officer suffered cervical, thoracic, and lumbar injuries because of the crash and was rendered unable to perform his job for approximately 16 months. The state police began issuing the officer a weekly compensation rate of his full salary and included a notation indicating that it was a Paid Salary Continuation for Heart and Lung Benefits by Employer.

The officer entered into a settlement agreement with the tractor-trailer driver and other responsible parties three years later for over $1 million. The state police attempted to recoup the workers’ compensation benefits paid out to the officer, but the Court ruled that, in accordance with precedent, Heart and Lung benefits subsume worker’s compensation benefits and therefore, subrogation is barred.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Injured Workers Claim Compensation for Their Injuries

If you were injured in a workplace accident, contact a knowledgeable Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. You have three years from the date of your injury to file a claim, so it is important to seek counsel as soon as possible. We can help you review several types of settlements you may be eligible to receive, as well as all other legal options. We represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.

Our team also provides skilled representation to those residing in and around Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.