Hurt at Work? What You Should Know About Suing a Company for Negligence
In most cases, suing a company for negligence may not be possible if you are a worker and the company is your employer. That is because the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act requires most workers to pursue claims through the workman’s comp benefits program rather than by filing a lawsuit. Employees may be able to sue their employer if they are the victim of defamation, discrimination, or sexual harassment. Further, if the employer commits an intentional act or retaliates against the employee, the employee may be able to file a legal claim against the employer if they suffer an injury. Additionally, employees who suffer a work-related injury due to a defective product or a third party’s negligence may be able to pursue a lawsuit outside the workers’ comp system.
Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo fights for workers’ rights throughout Pennsylvania. Our team has recovered over $1.5 billion on behalf of injured workers, helping them get the medical help they need to get back on their feet. Our Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyers are fearless advocates who stand by their clients to help them get the support they deserve under the law.
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Can You Sue Your Employer for Negligence in Pennsylvania?
As a general rule, Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws do not allow workers to file a lawsuit against their employer for most workplace injuries. Instead, the workers’ sole remedies are through the workers’ compensation system. There are exceptions to this rule for intentional acts, sexual harassment, and discrimination claims. Further, employees may be able to file a claim against their employer if they retaliate against them.
If their employer does not have workers’ comp insurance, they may be able to file a claim against their employer or seek benefits through Pennsylvania’s Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund. The fund helps to ensure that workers can receive the benefits they are entitled to by law even if their employer breaks the law by not carrying the required insurance.
Who Can Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Pennsylvania?
Workers can pursue workers’ comp claims for several types of work injuries. To be eligible for benefits, the person must be a qualified employee and must have been acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the injury. Qualified workers typically include those with an employment relationship with the company and are not independent contractors. Even if they only have one employee, most Pennsylvania employers must carry workers’ comp insurance to cover all eligible workers (including seasonal and part-time workers).
Workers injured while on the job may be eligible for benefits if they were acting within the scope of their employment. The law takes a broad approach when it comes to determining if an employee was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the injury. Most conduct falls within this category unless the insurance company proves the employee intentionally harmed themselves at work or engaged in illegal activity that caused their injury. For example, a worker who is intoxicated and injures themselves may not be eligible for benefits.
Under Pennsylvania law, third-party laborers and contractors employed by another company may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits if they are injured at another worksite. Let’s say an auto manufacturing facility hires a third-party contractor to come in and assist with a project, and they suffer an injury. In that case, the contractor may be able to file a workers’ comp claim with the manufacturing facility’s insurance company or their employer. This is because, under Pennsylvania law, employers may be liable for injuries to their employees or people they hire to work for them. Workers injured by these third-party contractors may be able to file a workers’ comp claim or a personal injury claim against the party responsible for their injuries. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand your rights under a specific situation.
When Can You Sue Your Employer for a Work Incident?
In some cases, a work incident may fall outside of the realm of workers’ compensation. If that is the case, the worker may be eligible to file a lawsuit against their employer to secure a damages award through the court system. Examples of situations where the employer is legally liable for a work incident are if they retaliate against you, commit an intentional act of wrongdoing, or if the claim involves sexual harassment or discrimination.
Pennsylvania’s laws protect you against retaliation for taking lawful actions. For example, if you report an OSHA violation, your employer cannot reduce your hours or take adverse employment action because of it. Additionally, if you exercise your legal right to pursue workers’ compensation, it is illegal for your employer to fire you, reduce your hours, or take other actions against you in response. If your employer or someone who works for your employer retaliates against you, you may have a legal claim against them.
The workers’ compensation act shields employers from direct legal liability for most work injuries, meaning the employee usually cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against them for a lawsuit. But the law has an exception for employers that intentionally harm their employees or intentionally do something that runs a substantial risk of harming their employees. If you are in this situation, you may have a personal injury claim against your employer.
Under federal and Pennsylvania law, employers must protect workers from experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment includes a broad range of conduct, including explicitly requesting sexual favors as a condition of continued employment or implying that someone’s job is at risk if they do not perform or allow sexual conduct. Additionally, inappropriate or sexual comments or situations (such as lewd photographs) can constitute sexual harassment if they create a hostile work environment. If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be able to file a claim against your employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Anti-discrimination laws protect employees from being treated adversely because of their membership (actual or perceived) to a protected class. Discrimination laws protect employees on the basis of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, national origin, and other grounds. These laws make it illegal for employers to treat people adversely because of their actual or perceived membership to a protected class. For example, an employer cannot fire or refuse to hire someone because of their gender or race. If workers experience discriminatory conduct in the workplace, they may be entitled to compensation by filing a claim against their employer.
Suing a Company for an Injury You Got While at Work
In some cases, you may have a legal claim against a third party for causing injuries you acquired at work. For example, if you are in a work-related car accident while driving your vehicle, you may be able to pursue compensation against the at-fault driver for compensation not covered by your workers’ comp benefits. This might include a financial award to cover needed property repairs. Additionally, if you experience an eye injury because of a defective product, you may be able to pursue compensation against a third party in addition to your workers’ comp claim.
Before taking action, it is important to understand your legal rights. An attorney can help you accomplish this so you are aware of the applicable deadlines that may apply to your case. If you miss these deadlines, you may not be able to file a claim against the party responsible for your injuries.
How Do I Get Benefits Under Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Laws?
To receive benefits under Pennsylvania’s worker compensation laws, you first must report the injury to your employer. Typically, you should report the injury within 21 days after a work-related accident or after you find out your condition is because of work (such as carpal tunnel syndrome). In some cases, you can report the injury up to 120 days later, but this can impact the timing and amount of your benefits. Further, waiting too long can jeopardize your chance of receiving benefits. For that reason, it is important to act swiftly.
After you report the injury to your employer, they must immediately report it to their insurance carrier. If they carry a self-insurance workers’ comp policy, they must immediately report the injury to the person or organization that manages it. Your employer must also file a First Report of Injury with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within a certain amount of time. The employer must file the report for injuries resulting in death within 48 hours. For injuries resulting in disability that lasts longer than one shift at work, they have seven days to report it to the Bureau.
Within 21 days after you report the injury to your employer, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company should issue a decision either granting or denying the claim. If they deny the claim, you can file a workers’ compensation lawsuit to fight for the benefits you deserve under the law. Because of the complexities involved in handling these claims, it can be beneficial to hire a Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney to help you navigate the court system.
The Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo Can Help
Experiencing a work injury can present unique challenges for you and your loved ones. You may have many questions about what you can do to help your situation. Our team is here to help and support you during this time.
For nearly 100 years, Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo has diligently served Pennsylvania by fighting for injured workers’ rights to compensation and helping them pursue Social Security Disability benefits. Our firm includes Jason Krasno, who has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers since 2006.
If you suffered a work injury and need help understanding your options, call us today at 844-243-4843 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.