When an employer's negligence contributes to a workplace accident, you may wonder if you can bring a lawsuit to hold them accountable for the pain and suffering, lost wages or loss to your household. In most areas of law, it is normal to sue the responsible party for the damages they have caused.
Under Pennsylvania workers' compensation law, however, the answer is usually "no." Your employer cannot be sued because of work-related injuries. Workers' compensation is considered a "no-fault" benefit. This means that if the injury is your fault, or the fault of your employer's negligence or even a co-worker, your only benefits are provided by workers' compensation regardless of fault. The employer is not subject to a lawsuit in the civil courts for additional elements of damages or losses such as pain and suffering, inconvenience, etc. Lawsuits against co-workers whose negligence may have resulted in a workplace injury are also barred by the workers' compensation law.
Visit our Workers' Compensation FAQ for more answers to common questions about workers' comp in Pennsylvania.
A different rule applies, however, to injuries that occur as a result of the negligent or careless conduct of a third party (the injured worker being the first party and the employer being the second party). These work injury lawsuits, called third-party cases in the workers' compensation business, frequently occur when the negligent conduct of this third party results in the workplace injury.
For example, a traveling salesman injured in a car accident could possibly receive workers' compensation benefits because the injury occurred in the course of employment but could bring a third-party action against the driver of the other vehicle in the collision. Third-party cases for injuries are handled in the civil courts, not the workers' compensation system.
Know Your Rights At Work
Wrongful Termination After Workers' Compensation Injuries
Some employers will do the right thing after an employee is injured and help the employee return to work smoothly when it is appropriate. Unfortunately, too many employers see an injured employee with a workers' compensation claim as a liability. Your boss may look for ways to terminate your employment, move you to a lower paying position or take other steps to compromise your livelihood as retaliation for your injury.
This is unacceptable and illegal under state and federal law. If you are being treated unfairly in the workplace after an injury, a knowledgeable workers' compensation attorney can communicate with your employer and insurer on your behalf in order to protect your rights and, if necessary, bring a civil lawsuit.
Your employer and its insurer likely have their own lawyers already. The best way to fight for a fair outcome is to do the same. We have represented countless injured workers in Pennsylvania, helping them secure the compensation they need and protect their interests in the workplace.
Contact Us For A Free Consultation
Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., by calling us at 412-567-1232 in Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania, 215-792-6153 in Philadelphia or Eastern Pennsylvania or toll free at 866-466-5789. You may also send us an email, and a member of our firm will get in touch with you promptly. Your first consultation is always completely free and confidential, whether we meet at one of our offices, your home, the hospital or your union hall.