When a person is injured in a motor vehicle collision while performing his or her work duties a workers compensation claim arises. Many injured workers do not realize that a potential personal injury action also arises. The injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation wage benefits and medical benefits from the employer’s workers compensation insurance carrier. The insurance carrier pays these benefits as a result of the injury occurring while the employee is acting within the course and scope of employment. However, pursuant to section 319 of the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act, the employer or its insurance carrier has a right of subrogation against the third party for compensation payments and medical expenses they have paid. This just means that the employer’s insurance carrier gets to recoup the money they have paid as a result of the negligence of another third party. This is commonly referred to as a lien.
The injured worker may also recover for pain and suffering in a personal injury action as a result of the same incident. This is where it could get tricky. The injured worker has a legal obligation to protect the workers compensation lien. The injured worker must notify the employer’s insurance carrier before accepting any monetary settlement in the personal injury action. Failure to notify the employer’s insurance carrier could result in the injured becoming responsible for that lien. It is extremely important that you have a knowledgeable attorney to advise you on all issues and consequences in this type of litigation. If you have a legal question, please do not hesitate to call.