Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance that is generally available to those who are hurt at work. Each state has its own laws governing those benefits.
In Pennsylvania, when you are injured during the course and scope of your employment, generally your exclusive remedy is workers’ compensation. This means that when you are hurt at work, workers’ compensation will pay for your medical treatment and will provide limited wage loss benefits based on your average weekly wage.
When the law was being passed in the state legislature, in compromise for this exclusivity of remedy provision and the limitation on recoverable damages, workers’ compensation is a no-fault law. This means that when making a workers’ compensation claim, the negligence of either the employer or the employee is not generally taken into account.
When can I Pursue Pain and Suffering?
An exception to the exclusivity of remedy in a workers’ compensation action exists where the work injury was caused by a third party – i.e. neither the employer nor the employee. Some common situations where work injuries are caused by a third party include:
- Car accidents where an employee in driving between meeting locations or traveling between work facilities
- Delivery drivers who are caused to slip and fall by a dangerous condition at someone’s home or business (broken sidewalk, ice, etc.)
- Workers on a construction site that are injured due to a dangerous condition caused by another contractor.
In these cases, the employee will still receive workers’ compensation benefits because the injury occurred during the course and scope of their employment, but they can additionally file a negligence suit against the third party who caused the employee’s injuries.
The Effect of Workers Compensation on a Third-Party Liability Claim
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Damages, including those for pain and suffering, are recoverable in this third-party action. However, workers’ compensation carriers will have subrogation rights against any recovery you might secure from the negligent defendant. The mechanism for asserting this right is called a lien. As such, workers’ compensation will assert a lien against any settlement or judgment that may be secured for the injuries. Essentially, this means that workers’ compensation will be paid back any benefits they may have extended for the work injury, but those amounts will be taken into account in any settlement or judgment. As such, when all is said and done, the plaintiff should be left with damages for their pain and suffering caused by the negligent third party.
Recovering compensation after an accident
If you were injured on the job or lost a loved one while they were on the job, contact the experienced attorneys at Berger and Green. We keep in mind your present and future needs. Call Berger and Green at 412-661-1400 to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Pittsburgh today.