In the wake of a work injury, most people believe their only option for recovering compensation is through a workers’ compensation claim. While this is true most of the time, it’s not the only way for injured workers to recover funds for medical treatment and lost wages.
When to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Nearly every employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Workers’ compensation is a form of no-fault coverage that provides workers with benefits after a work injury. The benefits that a worker may be eligible for through a workers’ compensation claim include payment for medical bills, a percentage of lost wages, and funeral and burial expenses to the family (if applicable).
Workers’ compensation prohibits workers from suing their employer for damages after a work injury. Workers’ compensation is meant to cover the expenses incurred from nearly every work injury, while at the same time protecting the employer from liability.
One benefit of workers’ compensation claims is that the worker does not have to prove fault in order to recover compensation. Compensation is automatically given to them after a work injury (except in very rare situations).
The process of recovering funds through a workers’ compensation claim may follow these steps, as provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry:
- Inform your employer of your injury within 21 days. It’s helpful to include a copy of this notice in writing.
- Employers must immediately report the injury to their insurer and file a “First Report of Injury” with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within 48 hours for every injury resulting in death and within seven days for all other injuries.
- Employers must use a “Statement of Wages” to calculate the employee’s wages and the amount they should receive in workers’ compensation benefits.
Pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act, Section 105.1, the Department of Labor & Industry has determined the statewide average weekly wage for injuries occurring on and after Jan. 1, 2021, shall be $1,130.00 per week.
The truth of the matter is, a workers’ compensation claim may not provide enough funds for a worker to get the medical treatment they need. This is particularly true if the injury is catastrophic, chronic, or progressive. Therefore, it may benefit the worker to consider filing a personal injury claim against any third-party that caused their injury (if applicable).
When to File a Third-Party Claim After a Work Injury
Workers cannot sue their employer for a work injury. However, there are certain situations where an injured worker may sue third-parties that caused their accident and injury. This would be done by filing a third-party claim.
An injured worker can file a third-party claim against any third party who acted with negligence and contributed to the worker’s injury. Since these types of claims only involve third parties, they cannot involve an employer or co-worker. The situations where a third-party claim may apply include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A worker was operating a machine that was defectively designed, manufactured, or labeled. The worker may file a third-party claim against the machine’s manufacturer.
- A worker was working on a property with a hazardous condition that went uncorrected. The worker may file a third-party claim against the property owner.
- A worker was injured by the actions of a third-party contractor on the job site. The worker may file a third-party claim against the contractor and/or their employer.
The main difference between a third-party claim and a workers’ compensation claim is that you must prove fault in a third-party claim, while you do not need to do so in a workers’ compensation claim. Those filing a third-party claim must demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the third party caused their injuries and should be held liable. This means the evidence must show the third party was more than 50% liable for the worker’s injuries. In order to do this, the injured worker must demonstrate:
- A duty of care existed between the worker and the third party. This means the third party, such as a product manufacturer or a property owner, had a responsibility to ensure their product or property was safe for use.
- The duty of care was breached by the third party.
- The breach of the duty of care caused the worker’s injuries.
- The worker suffered losses (physical, emotional, and/or financial).
While third-party claims can provide substantially more compensation than a workers’ compensation claim, they are also more difficult to win. This is why it’s vital for you to contact an experienced personal injury attorney after a work injury to understand all your options, and whether a third-party claim is something you are eligible to file.
Injured in a Work Accident? We’re Here to Help
Work injuries can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. They can keep an employee out of work for weeks, months, or even for the remainder of their life. Such a sudden change can leave a worker and their family without means to support themselves.
At Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C., we understand the serious toll a work injury can have on a worker and their family. That’s why we’re here to help those who have been injured on the job obtain justice and recover the compensation they deserve. We have a strong track record of success in cases like these, and we’re here to help you through this.
Call Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C. at (844) 383-0565 to schedule a free consultation.