Workers’ Compensation: An Overview
Pennsylvania, like many other states, has its own set of workers’ compensation laws. These laws provide protections for both employers and employees. If an employee is injured on the job, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage to that employee for medical expenses and lost wages.
Workers’ compensation insurance coverage protects the employer from being sued by an employee. Some employee injuries may accrue hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses, which could easily bankrupt many companies.
However, what if the employer is not the party responsible for the employee’s injuries?
If you have been injured on the job, you may be able to file a third-party claim against another individual or entity–bypassing the workers’ compensation process. In this situation, you would generally file a negligence claim against the individual or entity responsible for your injuries.
How Do I Know If I Need to File a Third-Party Claim?
Workers’ compensation insurance covers injuries that arise during the course of employment. Injuries caused by workplace accidents are generally covered by workers’ compensation, as are illnesses and diseases that develop as a result of employment.
The injured employee does not actually have to show that the employer was negligent to recover workers’ compensation proceeds.
If the injury was caused by an outside party, however, it may be necessary to file a third-party claim.
For example, on a construction site, there are many different contractors involved. If a contractor from one company left materials out in a work area, causing a contractor from another company to trip and fall, the injured contractor may be able to file a third-party claim against the contractor that left the materials out.
Third-party claims are more common in some industries than others. They are frequently appropriate in:
- Factory site injuries
- Construction accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Industrial site injuries
- Premises liability claims
If you have been injured while working, you should seek advice from an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to learn about your legal options.
Negligence: A Necessary Factor in Third-Party Claims
In third-party claims, it is necessary to prove that the defendant was negligent. The factors in a negligence claim are:
- The defendant owed a duty to the injured plaintiff;
- The defendant breached this duty; and
- Due to this breach, the plaintiff suffered damages.
Each of these factors must be proven for an injured plaintiff to recover damages in a third-party claim.
To illustrate, consider an employee who has to drive to another location to deliver a product. While driving, the employee is involved in a car accident with someone else who was texting while driving.
The at-fault driver has a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances while driving–and texting while behind the wheel is certainly a breach of this duty. The injured employee will be able to demonstrate that the at-fault driver is responsible for the crash, and, therefore, his injuries.
There are a number of damages that may be available in a third-party negligence claim.
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
In a workers’ compensation claim, claimants generally are only entitled to a percentage of their lost wages. In a third-party claim, however, an injured claimant may seek the full amount of lost wages.
Additionally, workers’ compensation does not provide coverage for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are those that cannot be readily calculated–such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. However, in a third-party claim, it is possible to seek these damages.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Third-Party Claim May Be Possible
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the workplace accident, it may be possible to file multiple claims–including both a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party claim. Your experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney will be able to examine the facts of your case and identify any liable parties.
To allow plenty of time to investigate and pursue your claims, you should meet with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after being injured.
At Solnick & Associates, We Are Experienced in Workplace Injury Claims
The personal injury attorneys at Solnick & Associates have assisted numerous clients with workplace injury claims. To schedule a free consultation to learn about your options and the services we offer, contact us at (215) 481-9979.