Must Self-Insured Employer Pay Uninsured Motorist Benefits In Addition to Workers' Compensation ?
In Hackenberg v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, 526 Pa. 358, 586 A.2d 879 (1991), Hackenberg, an employee of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), a self-insured entity, was injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident with an uninsured driver.
Hackenberg sued SEPTA for uninsured motorist benefits.
SEPTA filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that Section 303(a) of the Workers' Compensation Act limited its liability to payment of workers' compensation.
At that time, the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL) provided that:
(1) uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage was mandatory, 75 Pa. C.S. 1731;
(2) "the coverages required by this subchapter shall not be made subject to an exclusion or reduction in amount because of any workers' compensation benefits payable as a result of the same injury." Hackenberg, 526 Pa. at 361, 586 A.2d at 880 (quoting 75 Pa. C.S. 1735 currently repealed)
Hackenberg claimed that he was entitled to uninsured motorist benefits in addition to workers' compensation benefits because Section 1787 of the MVFRL required a self-insured employer to provide uninsured motorist benefits and Section 1735 of the MVFRL provided that such benefits could not be diminished due to the receipt of workers' compensation.
The Supreme Court disagreed with Hackenberg's argument.
Specifically, the Court held that Section 1735 applied only to coverages provided in insurance policies, precluding insurers from writing policies that reduced the amount the person was entitled to receive because the person to be paid would also receive workers' compensation benefits for the same injury. 526 Pa. at 367, 586 A.2d at 883.
Accordingly, the Court concluded that Section 1735 did not apply to self-insurers, and thus did not mandate that a self-insured employer pay uninsured motorist benefits in addition to workers' compensation for a work-related injury. Id.