Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers | Court Decision Favors Municipal Employee January 13, 2015
In a major victory for injured municipal employees in Philadelphia, a Pennsylvania appellate court recently blocked the city’s attempt to obtain a portion of an injured worker’s personal injury lawsuit recovery. This decision allowed the injured worker, a Philadelphia police officer, to keep the full amount of the injury benefits he received under the Heart and Lung Act and the full recovery from his lawsuit award.
The police officer suffered serious injuries when his patrol car was rear ended by a drunk driver. The back injuries the victim suffered in the car accident resulted in him missing work for 21 weeks. The City of Philadelphia initially awarded the officer the maximum Workers’ Compensation benefit allowable under its self-insured insurance policy (which amounted to 53% of his total salary.) However, the City chose not to pay out these Workers’ Compensation benefits and instead paid benefits to the officer under the Heart and Lung Act. Under the Heart and Lung Act, the officer would continue to receive 100% of his salary while he was temporarily disabled and unable to work.
Under Pennsylvania law, public safety employers are entitled to receive both Workers’ Compensation benefits and benefits under the Heart and Lung Act, but the Workers’ Compensation benefits must be turned over to the claimant’s employer. In recognition of this law many self-insured employers, like the City of Philadelphia, simply do not pay Workers’ Compensation benefits in cases where benefits are also being paid under the Heart and Lung Act.
The injured employee eventually returned to his position as a police officer and stopped receiving benefits under the Heart and Lung Act. He also filed a lawsuit against the drunk driver and the bar that served the driver. As a result of that lawsuit, the claimant received an award of $100,000.
Sometimes, if a party other than your employer is responsible for your on-the-job injury, you can sue that other responsible party. However, under Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation laws, if you’re an injured worker who receives money in a lawsuit arising from your workplace injury, you might have to pay back your employer for any Workers’ Compensation benefits you receive.
In this case, the City of Philadelphia sought to have the officer pay back the City for the benefits paid to him under the Heart and Lung Act since he recovered $100,000 from the drunk driver and bar.
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appel Board initially ruled that a portion of the Heart and Lung Act benefits should be classified as Workers’ Compensation benefits which the city would be able to recover. This decision was reversed by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court which unanimously ruled last month that the City of Philadelphia could not collect against the worker’s $100,000 recovery. The Court held that unlike Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation laws, the Heart and Lung Act did not specifically provide employers the right to a portion of these benefits.
As a result of this ruling, the injured employee was able to receive both Heart and Lung Act benefits and his recovery against the drunk driver and the bar without having to pay any of this money back to the City of Philadelphia. This is a significant victory for injured municipal workers who rely on Heart and Lung Act benefits to relieve some of the financial stresses created by workplace injuries.
The dedicated Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger help Injured Workers receive Compensation for their Injuries
If you or your loved one has been injured at the jobsite, you may be entitled to compensation for the costs of your past and future medical treatment, loss wages and pain and suffering. The experienced personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia at Galfand Berger work with injured individuals and their families to identify all potentially responsible parties to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation. Our attorneys can handle all your Workers’ Compensation, third party liability, car accident and premises liability claims.
With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Galfand Berger serves clients throughout the Harrisburg and Allentown region, as well as the South Jersey area. To schedule your free consultation, call us today at 1-800-222-8792 or submit an online inquiry form.