How Workers’ Compensation Subrogation Works

Date: July 20, 2018

How Workers’ Compensation Subrogation Works

Under the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act, when an employer has paid benefits to an injured worker as a result of a work injury that was caused by the negligence of a third party, the employer is entitled to recoup whatever benefits it has paid from the injured employee’s recovery from the negligent third party. This concept, known as subrogation, often comes in to play when an employee is injured in a motor vehicle accident while in the course and scope of employment.

Generally speaking, the employer’s subrogation rights are absolute with regard to recouping payments made under the Workers Compensation Act. However, an exception to this general rule has been applied in cases involving benefits paid under the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act. The Heart and Lung act addresses payments made to a certain class of employees (primarily police and fire personnel) for injuries incurred while “in the performance of (their) duties”. The key distinction between workers compensation wage loss benefits and Heart and Lung benefits is that workers compensation benefits are generally 2/3 (or 66.66%) of an employee’s pre-injury earnings while Heart and Lung benefits are 100% of the employee’s pre-injury pay.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that benefits that an injured worker received for payment of medical care and treatment, following work-related automobile accident, were Heart and Lung benefits, not Workers’ Compensation Act benefits, and thus, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law , the injured worker’s employer did not have a right of subrogation against the injured worker’s settlement with the third-party tortfeasors that caused his accident.

This exception to the general rule favoring subrogation applies only to work-related motor vehicle accidents that results in benefits paid under the Heart and Lung Act.

Contact Tom Cummings for Workers’ Compensation Subrogation Recovery

If you’ve suffered a work injury and have questions about your claim, contact me at or call (570) 347-1011 for a free consultation.


Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.