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The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that notwithstanding the strong subrogation rights conferred upon employers or their workers’ compensation insurers, they have no direct right of action against a third-party tortfeasor under 77 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 671, where the injured employee has taken no action against the tortfeasor. Accordingly, since the insurer filed suit in its own name against the alleged third-party tortfeasor, it was appropriate for the Superior Court to sustain the third-party’s objections to the action. The Court stressed that the employer and/or insurer stood in the injured employee’s shoes; neither had an independent right of action in their own name. While the Court danced around the issue, it actually stopped short of holding that an employer or insurer could actually file suit in the name of the injured employee. The Court pointed out that in the instant case, the insurer had not done so; the issue was, therefore, not properly before the Court. The Court also stressed that Pennsylvania courts disfavor splitting causes of action. That maxim had frequently remained true within the context of workers’ compensation subrogation.
Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).
LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.
See Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Domtar Paper Co., 2015 Pa. LEXIS 887 (Apr. 27, 2015) [2015 Pa. LEXIS 887 (W.D. Ky., Apr. 27, 2015)]
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 116.05 [116.05]
Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.
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