No one wants to experience an injury at work, but the unfortunate reality is that sometimes, these things do happen. Some jobs pose a much higher risk of injury than others; for instance, logging workers, roofers, and truck drivers experience a much higher rate of injury at work than most other people. In 209, CNBC reported that truck drivers experienced fatal injuries at a rate of 26 per 100,000.
This is in stark contrast to the overall average rate of workplace injury in the US that year, which was just 3.5 per 100,000. Refuse and recyclable material collectors are statistically even more at risk, with the most common source of injury coming from transportation incidents. In the state of Pennsylvania, construction workers have historically made up nearly a quarter of all workplace fatalities.
Whether you work in one of these industries or in a different field altogether, going to work always poses a possible risk of physical harm. If you or a loved one has experienced a workplace injury, we are so sorry for your suffering and are here to fight for you. You should be able to focus on recovery, so let us handle the legal side. We know this is a stressful time for you and your family, and you’re likely overwhelmed by figuring out how to move forward. Should you pursue workers’ compensation? File a third party claim? What exactly is a third party claim? Read on for all the answers you need to get started, and contact us anytime for a free initial consultation.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a system set up to protect both employees and employers. In most cases, if you are injured at work, you cannot sue your employer or any coworker — even if you believe their negligence played a role in your injury. Instead, you have the right to pursue workers’ comp, which provides compensation for medical bills and lost wages. Most employers (with some exceptions) are mandated to provide workers’ comp insurance for their employees, either through a licensed insurance provider or the State Workers’ insurance Fund. If you have sustained an injury or occupational illness as a result of your work, workers’ compensation may be right for you.
What is a Third Party Claim?
You generally cannot file a personal injury suit against an employer or coworker for a workplace injury, but in some cases, you can file a suit against a third party if their negligence played a role in or caused your injury. Essentially, a third party claim is a claim against any entity other than your employer or coworkers that contributed to your workplace injury. You are considered the first party, your employer is the second party, and the third party is anyone else who contributed to or caused the injury.
Examples of a Third Party Claim for a Workplace Injury
There are many cases in which a third party may be responsible for your workplace injury. These include:
- If your injury was due to a piece of machinery spontaneously malfunctioning, you may be able to file a personal injury suit against the manufacturer of that machinery. Other examples of potential third party claims include:
- If you are working on someone else’s property (perhaps as a landscaper or wi-fi technician, for example) and you are bitten or injured by the property owner’s dog, you may be able to sue the property owner
- If your job involves driving and you are in a car accident while working, you may be able to file a personal injury suit with the other driver
- If your job involves exposure to toxins or chemicals that cause injury or disease, you may be able to file a personal injury suit against the manufacturers of those products
- If you slip and fall because a private janitorial company left no signs of a floor being wet
- And many more
How Do I Know If I Can File a Third Party Claim for My Workplace Injury?
In order to be eligible to file a third party claim, there are a few elements you’ll need to be able to prove. Of course, you should review all of this with your Philadelphia personal injury lawyer to be sure you have a solid case before moving forward. The elements you need to prove for a third party claim for a workplace injury are essentially the same as in any personal injury case. You and your lawyer will need to prove the following:
- That whoever the third party is, they owed you a duty of care. In other words, they had a responsibility to act reasonably and avoid causing you harm, whether through their action or their lack of action.
- This will be true in most cases. For instance, if you work in wi-fi installation and are on someone’s private property to do your job, they have an inherent duty of care. They need to actively avoid causing you harm, and warn you of anything they know may cause harm.
- Second, you need to show that this duty of care was breached by the third party.
- If you’re installing wi-fi in someone’s home and they know their staircase is broken but fail to mention this to you as you head upstairs to do your job, and the stairs break and injure you, they have breached their duty of care. They failed to warn you about a hazardous situation they were well aware of.
- Third, you need to prove that the breaching of this duty of care, whether through action or inaction, caused your injury.
- In the example above, this is true: you, as the wi-fi installer, were injured because they failed to act in a reasonable and safe way (ie, warning you about a very dangerous situation, in which case you would not have attempted to use the stairs). Their lack of reasonable action directly caused your injury.
- And lastly, you will prove that this injury resulted in financial losses or cost you money.
- The fact that this injury cost you money may be proven through medical bills, lost wages from your inability to work after the injury, evidence of a future lowered earning capacity, and more.
Can You File for Workers’ Compensation and File a Third Party Claim for the Same Injury?
If you were injured at your workplace and also believe a third party negligence contributed to or caused the injury, you may be wondering whether you can pursue both these forms of compensation simultaneously. The answer is both yes and no.
Depending on your case, you may be able to file for workers’ compensation and file a third party claim at the same time. However, you are not able to receive double benefits for the same injury.
This means that if you are already receiving workers’ compensation for an injury, and then file for and win a third party suit for the same injury, you will need to recoup your employer for any workers’ compensation benefits you received. This is known as a right to subrogation, meaning that Pennsylvania employers and their insurance carriers have a legal right to be repaid for any damages they paid out to you if you ultimately find a third party negligent and liable.
You and your Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer should discuss your options in order to decide the best course of action, because the right approach depends on the details of your case. If a third party is liable and the potential compensation you could receive from winning a suit against them is vastly greater than what you would receive through workers’ compensation, it may be a route worth considering. However, if you and your lawyer decide that the compensation is similar, or that there isn’t enough evidence to support a suit against a third party, you may decide to stick with workers’ compensation benefits.
Making these kinds of decisions without legal advice can land you in messy and expensive situations. The workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers at Munley Law are experts in examining these types of cases, and will always help you choose the most successful path. Talk to a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer today to get started.
Compensation in Workers Compensation Versus Third Party Claims
Workers’ compensation is designed to provide coverage for medical bills, vocational rehabilitation, and lost wages when someone is injured at work or sustains an occupational disease. However, there are limitations to how much you can receive and for how long, which is in part determined by the extent of your injury. In Philadelphia, and the state of Pennsylvania as a whole. The injured party generally receives approximately two-thirds of their pre-injury salary each week to cover lost wages. Under Pennsylvania law, as of the calendar year 2022, this amount is not to exceed $1,205 per week.
If you fall into the category of “partial disability”, meaning you are determined to be 49% or less disabled, you may receive these benefits for a maximum of 500 weeks. If you fall into the category of “total disability”, you may receive these benefits indefinitely. Additionally, these benefits can stop if and when the injured party returns to full, pre-injury employment ability, and/or if they are medically able to perform other employment with no loss of earnings.
Along with this compensation for lost wages, most injured parties seeking workers’ compensation have the vast majority of their medical costs paid for. However, it is not uncommon for employers and their insurance carriers to try to shortchange injured parties. They may try to have someone designated in a lower disability status, force them to see a potentially biased doctor provided by the insurance company, or resist beginning the workers’ compensation process at all. If you believe any of this is the case, or if you just want to be sure you’re receiving your rightful compensation, please contact a Philadelphia workers’ comp attorney at Munley Law as soon as possible so that we can help you set things right.
In any personal injury case, such as a third party claim, it’s difficult to estimate how much a suit may be worth without examining the specific case details. It’s determined by the extent of your injury, your medical costs, whether your future earning capacity has been lowered, and much more. Speak to your Munley Law attorney today to get an estimate for your case and decide whether filing a third party suit may be the right course of action for you.
What a Philadelphia Workers Comp Lawyer Can Do For You
Experiencing an injury in the workplace is, without a doubt, a stressful and traumatizing experience for anyone. It’s even harder if you try to go it alone without proper legal support. Allow the attorneys at Munley Law to navigate the legal system for you and fight on your behalf, so that you can focus on your recovery and getting back to your life.
At Munley Law, we know that employers and their insurance providers are sometimes resistant to workers compensation claims, and that third parties and their legal teams will do everything they can to disprove your case. But we are committed to fighting for you at every turn, and we have the excellent track record to prove that you can rely on us. Our incredible team consists of ten excellent, highly experienced lawyers and dozens of excellent legal support staff whose singular goal is to protect your rights. All of our highly-qualified lawyers have years of hands-on trial experience, which is something many personal injury attorneys and firms cannot offer.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Munley Law to meet one of our incredible personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn how we can protect your interests and help you recover compensation.