Workers’ compensation is a system designed to provide financial benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. It is a form of insurance that provides medical treatment coverage, wage replacement, disability benefits, and vocational rehabilitation to injured workers in Pennsylvania.
If you have been injured while on the job in Easton, PA, you might have questions about how the workers’ comp system works, who is eligible, how much you are able to receive, and more.
Nearly all employers in PA are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance for all employees beginning on the employee’s first day on the job.
An experienced Easton workers’ compensation attorney at Munley Law can answer your questions and provide guidance on how to begin your claims process.
Sometimes, you are injured at work and an outside party is at fault.
In this case, you might want to also file a claim against that third party. This is called a third party claim and is separate from your workers’ compensation claim.
What is a Third Party Claim in Workers’ Compensation Cases?
In workers’ compensation cases, a third-party claim refers to a legal action filed against a party other than the employer or co-worker who may be liable for causing or contributing to a work-related injury or occupational illness. It allows an injured worker to seek additional compensation beyond what is available through the workers’ compensation system.
How Does a Third Party Claim Differ From a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
A workers’ compensation claim is filed with the employer’s insurance company and provides benefits regardless of who is at fault for the injury or illness.
A third party claim is a separate legal action against a non-employer party, such as a negligent driver, product manufacturer, or subcontractor, whose actions or negligence caused the work-related injury or illness.
If you or a loved one has been hurt or has died as a result of a work injury or illness and you believe a third party is responsible, call Munley Law at our Lehigh Valley offices today for your free case evaluation. Se habla espanol.
What Are Common Scenarios Where Third Party Claims May Arise in Workers’ Compensation Cases?
Third-party claims can arise in various situations. These include, for example:
- Motor vehicle accidents. If an employee is injured in a car accident while on the job due to another driver’s negligence.
- Defective products. If a faulty tool or equipment causes an injury at the workplace.
- Construction site accidents. If a subcontractor’s negligence or unsafe conditions lead to an employee’s injury.
- Premises liability. If a slip and fall accident or other hazardous conditions on someone else’s property cause a work-related injury.
What Does PA Workers’ Compensation Benefits Cover?
Workers’ compensation for Easton workers includes coverage for:
- Medical expenses. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation covers reasonable and necessary medical treatment, including doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation services, and medical equipment directly related to the work injury or illness.
- Wage Loss benefits. Workers’ compensation provides wage replacement benefits to compensate for a portion of lost wages due to a work-related disability. This includes temporary total disability benefits (TTD) for those unable to work at all, as well as partial disability benefits (PPD) for those with reduced earning capacity.
- Specific Loss benefits. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation also provides benefits for specific losses, such as the loss of a limb or permanent disfigurement, which are compensated separately based on statutory guidelines.
- Vocational rehabilitation. In cases where an injured worker is unable to return to their previous job, Pennsylvania workers’ compensation may cover vocational rehabilitation services to assist with job retraining, job placement, and other related support.
- Death benefits. In the unfortunate event of a work-related death, workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania provides death benefits to dependents, including compensation for funeral expenses and ongoing financial support.
- Occupational disease coverage. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation also covers occupational diseases that result from exposure to hazardous substances or conditions in the workplace. These may include conditions such as respiratory illnesses, repetitive stress injuries, or illnesses caused by toxic substances.
Why Should I Pursue a Third Party Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Pursuing a third-party claim offers several advantages, including:
- Additional compensation. In a third-party claim, injured workers may seek compensation beyond what workers’ compensation benefits provide. This can cover pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages not typically available through workers’ compensation.
- Potential for higher settlements. Third-party claims may result in higher settlements or jury awards, allowing for increased financial recovery.
- Accountability. Filing a third-party claim holds responsible parties accountable for their negligence or wrongful actions that caused or contributed to the work-related injury or illness.
How Do I Start a Third Party Workers’ Comp Claim?
If you have been injured at work or you have become sick from working conditions or your work environment, it is important to follow these steps to begin your claims process:
- Report your injury. Notify your employer in writing immediately about the work injury. Provide detailed information about how the injury occurred, including date, time, location, and any witnesses.
- Seek medical attention. Obtain prompt medical care from an authorized healthcare provider. Inform the medical professional that your injury is work-related.
- Document the incident. Keep records of all medical reports, diagnoses, treatments, and prescriptions related to your injury. Maintain copies of any accident reports or incident documentation provided by your employer.
- File a workers’ compensation claim. Complete the necessary workers’ compensation claim forms provided by your employer or their insurance carrier. Be sure to accurately and comprehensively describe the nature and extent of your work-related injury or disease.
- Consult with an Easton workers’ compensation attorney. Schedule a consultation with a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney at Munley Law to discuss your case. An attorney can provide guidance, assess the strength of your claim, and explain your rights and legal options.
- Cooperate with the workers’ compensation process.
Filing your claim for workers compensation can be tedious and overwhelming. Especially when you are dealing with the added stress of your recovery. But it is important to attend all medical evaluations requested by your employer or their insurance company.
- Provide any requested information or documentation promptly and honestly.
- Explore Third-Party Liability. Consult with your workers’ compensation attorney to determine if there is potential for a third-party claim. Identify any non-employer parties who may be responsible for your work-related injury.
- Gather evidence for your Third-Party Claim. Collect all relevant evidence, such as accident reports, photographs, witness statements, and medical records. Preserve any physical evidence related to the incident, such as defective equipment or hazardous substances.
- File a Third-Party Claim. With the assistance of your workers’ compensation attorney, initiate a separate legal action against the liable third party. Your attorney will be sure to follow the appropriate legal procedures and deadlines for filing the third-party claim.
- Pursue compensation. Work with your attorney to negotiate a fair settlement or litigate the third-party claim, if necessary. Seek compensation for additional damages, such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and future medical expenses.
What Are the Most Common Reasons a Third Party Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied?
A workers’ compensation third-party claim in Pennsylvania may be denied for various reasons. Some common reasons why a third-party claim in workers’ compensation might be denied include:
- Failure to demonstrate liability. The party being sued may argue that they are not responsible for the work-related injury or illness. They may claim that their actions or negligence did not contribute to the incident or that another party is solely responsible.
- Insufficient evidence. The evidence presented may not sufficiently establish a causal connection between the third party’s actions and the work-related injury. There may be a lack of documentation, witness statements, or expert opinions to support the claim.
- Statute of limitations. Failing to file the third-party claim within the specified time limits can result in denial. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including third-party claims, is generally two years from the date of the injury.
- Comparative negligence. If the injured worker is found partially at fault for the accident or injury, their recovery in the third-party claim may be reduced or completely denied. Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence rule, where the injured party’s compensation is reduced proportionally to their percentage of fault.
- Lack of Insurance Coverage. The third party may not have adequate insurance coverage to pay for the damages claimed in the lawsuit. Without sufficient assets or insurance, it can be challenging to recover compensation even if liability is established.
- Settlement or Prior Agreement. If the injured worker has previously settled with the third party or signed a release agreement, it may limit their ability to pursue further claims against that party.
If your initial third-party claim has been denied, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Munley Law today. We can explain your rights and provide a free case evaluation.
Call Munley Law at our Lehigh Valley offices today for your free case evaluation or message us using the form on this page. Se habla espanol.