Is Workers’ Compensation an Exclusive Remedy for a Job-Related Injury?
In Pennsylvania, when you’ve been injured in the workplace, you have a right to seek benefits by filing a workers’ compensation claim. As a general rule, there are only two requirements—you must show that you were injured and that your injury occurred on the job. You may be uncertain, though, whether a workers’ compensation is your “exclusive remedy.” Is it your only course of action after an injury on the job?
Not necessarily—Here’s how it works.
The workers’ compensation laws were enacted as the “great bargain,” intended to benefit both workers and employers. For workers, the process can be much simpler, and benefits can start much sooner. Because you don’t have to get on the court’s docket or conduct discovery, you can actually start receiving benefits within a couple weeks or so, provided your claim is approved.
For employers, workers’ compensation provides protection from unlimited jury awards, should the employer be negligent. The benefits are calculated based on prior earnings, with a cap on the amount paid out.
However, workers’ compensation is intended only to provide benefits in the event the employer or a co-employee was negligent. If the carelessness was committed by an unrelated third party, an injured worker is not limited to workers’ compensation benefits and may seek damages in a lawsuit. For example, if a worker is injured in a motor vehicle accident involving an unrelated third party, or is hurt because of the malfunction of a machine or tool, a civil suit may be filed.
In fact, an injured worker can file a personal injury lawsuit and a workers’ compensation claim simultaneously. The only restriction—you can’t recover twice for the same loss. If workers’ compensation paid your medical expenses, you cannot be reimbursed for them in a lawsuit.
Contact Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie, Seelaus & Kraft LLP
At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie, Seelaus & Kraft LLP, we have fought for the rights of individuals throughout Delaware County since 1980. We offer a free initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, call us at 610-565-4055 or 302-594-4535 or contact us online.
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