When you have suffered injuries at work in Pennsylvania, you file a worker’s compensation claim through your employer. The Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Act contains “exclusive remedy” provisions that protect employers from lawsuits brought by injured workers. This means that you cannot bring a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. A worker’s compensation claim would typically pay out benefits faster than a personal injury lawsuit, which could be dragged out for years.
Less Proof is Required
Filing a worker’s compensation claim is similar to filing an auto insurance claim. You have to fill out specific paperwork to get the claim process started. Next, the insurance company will want to see copies of your medical records to evaluate the extent of your injuries. The compensation you will receive is based on the extent of your injuries and the length of time you will be unable to work in the capacity you were able to before.
However, unlike auto accidents and personal injury lawsuits, the employee is not required to prove that the employer was negligent to obtain worker’s compensation benefits. Even if the employee can prove negligence on the behalf of the employer, those exclusive remedies under the Pennsylvania Compensation Act still protect the employer from being sued by employees.
Can I Sue Anyone Else for My Workplace Injuries?
While you may not be able to sue your employer under Pennsylvania laws, there are other personal injury lawsuits that may be established when a workplace injury occurs.
Some examples would be:
- If your workplace injury was caused by some type of product that had defects or performed improperly, you may be able to sue the manufacturer, the seller, or the distributor of the product in a product liability lawsuit. For example, a machine that functioned improperly and caused your injuries.
- If your injury was caused by a toxic substance, Pennsylvania toxic tort laws would allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the substance manufacturer.
- If your injury was caused by a third party, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the third party.
- Although Pennsylvania law protects your employer from premises liability claims, let’s say that you were working on a construction project that was not the site of your employer’s workplace. If you are injured because the property owner was negligent, you may be able to file a premises liability claim against the owner of the property.
Does Worker’s Compensation Benefits Compensate Me for Pain and Suffering?
In short, worker’s compensation benefits do not compensate workers for the pain and suffering that they endure due to their injuries. They also do not compensate for any punitive damages if the employer was, in fact, negligent. That is why it is crucial for people to understand their rights concerning injuries that occur in the workplace.
Contact an experienced Attorney
As you have probably already noticed, Pennsylvania worker’s compensation laws are not written in layman’s terms and they can often be befuddling for people who are injured at work. One of the best ways to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve is to hire an experienced Pennsylvania worker’s compensation lawyer that can also handle personal injury lawsuits, if they become necessary. Contact the law offices of Solnick & Associates, LLC if you have any questions pertaining to worker’s compensation or personal injury lawsuits today for a free consultation.
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(photo courtesy of Juan Arreo)