Pa. Work Injury vs. Personal Injury

Date: October 11, 2011
Posted In: DLP Law

            Sharon had parked her car on her employer\’s parking lot and was walking to the entrance of the building. Tony had just entered the parking lot and was switching the channels on his radio. He did not see Sharon until he struck her.

            As a result of the impact, Sharon suffered a fractured hip which would keep her out of work for over six months. Sharon initially viewed this as a Pa. work injury and did receive Workers\’ Compensation benefits. She then decided to sue Tony for the accident as well as apply for underinsurance motorist benefits on her own auto insurance because Tony only had minimal coverage.

ISSUE:          Will Sharon be successful?

ANSWER:     No. Sharon cannot sue Tony because he would be considered her co-employee. Like Sharon\’s employer, co-employees are also granted full immunity from any suits based upon negligence that results in injuries to other employees. Sharon also could not collect underinsured motorist benefits from her own auto carrier since those benefits are only allowable if Sharon would have been able to pursue a lawsuit against Tony. Since she is not, given Tony\’s immunity, her auto carrier would be successful in defending any claim for benefits under her own policy.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive.  Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column. 

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.