Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Address UIM Benefits Exclusion for Claimants Receiving Worker's Compensation Benefits

On July 7, 2009, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted a Petition For Allowance of an Appeal from a Commonwealth Court decision in the case of Heller v. Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, 406 WAL 2008 (July 7, 2009) to address the issue of whether or not the Supreme Court should strike down an exclusion in the defendant's policy that provided that any person receiving worker's compensation benefits was ineligible to receive UIM/UM motorist benefits for the same incident.

According to the Commonwealth Court's decision in the same case, found at 950 A.2d 362 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2008), this case involved a declaratory judgment complaint that was brought against a municipal insurer seeking a judicial declaration that the exclusion at issue violated public policy. The underlying claim involved a police officer who had been injured in a motor vehicle accident during the course of his employment and received worker's compensation benefits

The Commonwealth Court, in a decision authored by Judge Colins, held that the policy's exclusion of underinsured (UIM) benefits where worker's compensation benefits were available to the claimant was not void as against public policy. It remains to be seen how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will decide this important issue.

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