Workplace injuries can happen to anyone, which is why Pennsylvania law allows you to file for workers’ compensation benefits. With few exceptions, every employer must cover their employees for injuries that happen on the job. These benefits cover your medical bills and some of your lost wages, including temporary or permanent disability payments.
The good news about workers’ comp benefits is that you don’t have to prove your employer was negligent in order to receive them, and it does not matter if you were negligent, so long as you were not intoxicated and did not purposefully injure yourself. The bad news is that you cannot sue your employer for your injuries, which means you cannot receive full compensation for wage loss, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Do you have a third-party claim?
If the negligence of a party other than your employer caused your injury, you may have a third-party claim you can bring against them. Third-party claims allow you to recover all the damages of a typical personal injury lawsuit. Examples of situations where a third party caused or contributed to your work accident may include:
- Defective safety equipment- Many workers rely on safety equipment every day. Failure of equipment, such as a harness or helmet, could result in serious injury. You could have a claim against the equipment manufacturer.
- Motor vehicle crash- Auto accidents happen every day, and if another driver’s negligence injures you while you are on the clock, you can sue them just as you would for an accident that happened on your own time.
- Premises liability- When a property owner fails to keep their property reasonably safe, and their negligence results in an injury to you, you can sue them for a premises liability claim. For instance, you could be visiting a vendor’s office and trip on a broken step.
- Other contractors- On a construction site, many different contractors often work at the same site. If a subcontractor unrelated to your employer makes a mistake that ends up injuring you, you could sue that company.
Note that you can bring your third-party claim in addition to your workers’ comp claim. You do not have to forego your workers’ comp benefits to bring a third-party claim. Your workers’ comp attorney can guide you in whether you have a third-party claim and how to pursue it.
Some employees are not covered by workers’ compensation
Pennsylvania’s workers’ comp laws do exclude a few select groups of workers. For some, such as maritime, railroad and federal workers, a different type of benefits program exists. For other groups, such as domestic help and agricultural workers, the state workers’ comp laws do not apply.
If you are injured at work, make sure you consider all of the opportunities available to you for compensation. You may have more options than you originally thought.