I would like to file a third-party lawsuit against a subcontractor who caused my injury, but I am already receiving Pennsylvania workers’ compensation. Can I still file a claim?
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that if you are injured on the job, your injuries are covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage regardless of who is fault. You get the same benefits whether your injury was caused by your employers’ negligence or by your own lack of experience. It doesn’t matter.
However, this guarantee of benefits comes with a caveat; in most cases, you can’t sue your employer for your injury. This means that you can’t file a lawsuit against your employer, even if the company is directly at fault for your injury.
You can, however, file a lawsuit against any third-party that contributed to your injury. This third-party might be the driver who hit your employer-owned vehicle. It might be a subcontractor who turned on the electricity while you were installing wiring. Or, it might be a property owner who didn’t post signs warning of a dangerous condition.
When you are hurt on-the-job, workers’ compensation pays all related medical bills as well as a portion of the wages that you lost because of your injury. If you file a third-party lawsuit, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may ask you for reimbursement. The law allows the insurer to place a lien on your settlement for a part of the money that they paid you.
So, why would you go to the trouble of filing a third-party lawsuit? Workers’ compensation benefits are limited to medical costs and a portion of your lost wages. A lawsuit allows you to seek compensation for all your lost wages, any future loss of income, property damage, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, loss of consortium, and, in some cases, punitive damages. This means that your third-party claim could be worth significantly more than your workers’ compensation case.
Do you have questions about your construction site injury? Contact the personal injury lawyers at Ostroff Injury Law at (800) 818-8148. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.