Pennsylvania Supreme Court Decides That Workers’ Compensation Exclusion In Underinsured Motorist Policy Is Void - Plaintiff May Recover UIM Benefits
In an important decision for many workers involved in Pennsylvania car accidents with an underinsured party, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed a ruling of the Appellate Court striking down an exclusion on a car insurance policy which claimed that if an individual received workman’s compensation benefits, he was not eligible for underinsured motorist benefits. The facts of the case revealed that a police officer in the course and scope of his employment was injured in an automobile accident with a minimally insured driver and sustained severe injuries. Workers’ compensation paid the plaintiff’s medical expenses and two-thirds of his salary. The injured police officer recovered $25,000 policy limits from the third party insurance carrier, Allstate, (the insurance company responsible for the accident), however, due to the fact that losses and damages far exceeded the liability coverage, the plaintiff pursued an underinsured motorist claim for additional monetary damages and sought underinsured motorist benefits. The underinsured motorist carrier denied plaintiff’s claim for recovery pursuant to a policy exclusion stating that UIM coverage did not apply to anyone eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The Supreme Court disagreed with the insurance carrier and stated “We conclude that the workers’ compensation exclusion in an employer sponsored insurance policy violates public policy and is therefore unenforceable. According, we reverse the Order of the Commonwealth Court.” Moreover, the Court stated that where a third party tortfeasor or offender causes a work related injury, Pennsylvania law dictates that the ultimate burden for payment of benefits must rest upon the tortfeasor or UM/UIM carrier.
As an experienced Philadelphia and Pennsylvania car accident lawyer who specializes in uninsured and underinsured motorist car accident claims, I believe that this decision is significant in enabling those injured in car accident in the course and scope of their employment to receive all benefits available.