In Pennsylvania, employees who are injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from their employer and/or their employer’s insurance carrier. Workers’ compensation benefits provide an injured employee with compensation for (1) lost wages during the time the employee misses time from work due to his work injury, and (2) payment of all work-related medical expenses. If an employee suffers a loss of vision, hearing, or loss of, or loss of use of an arm, hand, finger, leg, foot or toe, the employee is also entitled to recover specific loss benefits (the amount of which is directed by statute). Contrary to popular belief, injured employees are not entitled to recover damages for “pain and suffering” against their employer or its insurance carrier.
Workers’ compensation benefits are considered “no fault” benefits. In other words, even if the employee was negligent or careless in causing his own injuries, subject to some limited exceptions, he is still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are also the exclusive remedy an injured employee has against his employer. Again, subject to some limited exceptions, even if the employer was negligent or careless in causing the employee’s injuries, the injured employee can not sue or pursue a claim against his employer for any additional damages beyond those he is entitled to under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Although an injured employee generally can not sue his employer to recover damages relating to a work injury, if a third party’s negligence caused the injured employee’s injuries then the injured employee can pursue a claim and/or sue the responsible third party for damages. The injured employee could recover damages for “pain and suffering” against a negligent third party. An example of when an injured employee could pursue a claim for damages against a negligent third party would be where the employee was injured while using a defective machine. Under those circumstances, the injured employee could pursue a claim for damages against the manufacturer and seller of the defective machine which caused his injuries. Another example where an injured employee could pursue a claim for damages against a negligent third party would be where the employee was injured while working on a construction site. If the employee’s injuries were caused by another contractor’s (or his employee’s) negligence, then the injured employee could pursue a damage claim against the contractor (or his employees) who caused his injuries.
If you have been injured on the job, or if you have any questions regarding workers’ compensation law and right to benefits and damages, call DLP for a free consultation at 570-347-1011.
John P. Finnerty, Esquire