Can an Individual Sue for a Workplace Injury in Pennsylvania?
If you suffered an injury in your workplace, you are entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, in most cases, your employer is probably immune from liability. That does not mean you do not have other options. In some instances, finding another party to sue, instead of your employer, might be more financially beneficial. The Philadelphia personal injury attorney from the Reiff Law Firm discusses this question in more detail below.
Filing Personal Injury Lawsuits Against Pennsylvania Employers
Under Pennsylvania law, employees who are injured in the workplace are generally not permitted to file lawsuits against their employers for work-related accidents and injuries. The Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act is in place to protect employers from negligence lawsuits. However, there are exceptions to the act. In some cases, filing a personal injury lawsuit will result in a higher compensation award than a workers’ compensation claim.
Exceptions that Allow Injured Employees to File Personal Injury Lawsuits Against their Pennsylvania Employers
While your employer is generally protected from personal injury lawsuits arising from negligence, there are several notable exceptions. The first is a situation where your employer failed to carry the mandatory Workers’ Compensation insurance. Under Pennsylvania law, an employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. The insurance is in place to provide injured workers an ability to collect compensation when they are injured while prohibiting employees from suing their employers. An employer loses their immunity to tort litigation when they fail to provide the required insurance.
Additionally, your employer is not immune from liability if they commit an intentional tort not related to work. For example, if your employer purposefully strikes you with a piece of equipment, Pennsylvania law does not prohibit you from filing a personal injury claim against them. However, this exception is narrowly construed in the Commonwealth. If your employer intentionally removed a safety device from a piece of machinery that resulted in an injury, the prohibition might be in effect. It is critical to discuss the facts of your incident with our experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney to determine if your employer’s conduct opened them up to liability.
It is important to note that when you bring a lawsuit against an employer, the burden of proof for the injured worker is higher than in a workers’ compensation case. To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, our office will have to show evidence that your injury was the result of negligent conduct. In a worker’s compensation claim, you only have to show that an injury occurred.
Lawsuits Against Third Parties for Workplace Injuries in Pennsylvania
One important aspect to understand is that the law prohibiting lawsuits against employers only applies to employers. Other parties are not usually protected from negligent personal injury lawsuits arising from workplace injuries. For example, contractors, subcontractors, other employees, or property owners could be held liable for workplace injuries. Our Pennsylvania personal injury attorney will thoroughly investigate your injury to determine if another party could be held accountable.
Not every injury in the workplace can be traced back to the conduct of your employer. In many situations, another employee could cause an injury by their reckless or negligent actions. If another employee failed to secure a ladder and you were injured when the ladder fell, you could file a personal injury claim directly against your co-worker.
Suppose an employee is injured due to a defect in a product or because a tool performed improperly. In that case, it could be possible to hold the seller, distributor, or manufacturer of the product responsible for the damages suffered. For instance, if the ladder was poorly designed or manufactured and collapsed, an injured worker could hold the manufacturer liable.
It is not uncommon to be working in an area, especially in construction or as a consultant, not owned by your employer. If a computer technician visits an office and is injured because of a poorly lit stairwell, the owner of the building could be held liable under a premises liability lawsuit.
In specific Pennsylvania workplaces, workers are exposed to toxic substances. When a toxic substance causes harm, an injured employee could have a viable personal injury claim under Pennsylvania’s toxic tort laws. These types of cases are complicated, and you should review the details with our Pennsylvania personal injury attorney.
Damages Available to Injured Employees in a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawsuit
Work injuries often have long-lasting negative impacts. Usually, injured employees will incur significant medical expenses, lose income, and experience pain and suffering. It is not uncommon for a workers’ compensation claim to inadequately cover all of an injured employee’s financial losses.
Third-party work injury lawsuits could allow an injured employee to recover their full medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. The compensation awarded often includes both past and future losses. For instance, an injured worker could recover the costs incurred for medical treatment before the lawsuit and any estimated future expenses for medical treatment that is likely to be required.
Workers Compensation benefits do not compensate an injured employee for their pain and suffering. However, non-economic damages, such as emotional stress and mental anguish, are available through a personal injury lawsuit. When our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys calculate the value of your claim, they will consider not only your financial losses but also your pain and suffering. In many instances, the non-economic damages awarded could be a significant part of your total recovery.
Call Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
Workplace accidents are common throughout Pennsylvania. If you were injured while working, contact our Pennsylvania personal injury attorney to review the facts of your case. Call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free consultation to review your rights and legal options.