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Wilkes-Barre Workers’ Comp and Third Party Claims

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Wilkes-Barre workers’ comp and third party lawsuits: how a workers’ comp attorney can help

What should you do if you were injured at work in Wilkes-Barre or Luzerne County, Pennsylvania? What if a contributing cause was that a piece of equipment was faulty or malfunctioned? You might submit a claim under the guidelines of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation. However, the amount awarded may or may not cover all the medical and related expenses incurred when you could not work. How would you find funds to cover the additional costs? A third-party lawsuit against the equipment manufacturer might be the answer.

Our Wilkes’ Barre workers’ comp lawyer could provide wisdom and guidance in such a situation. Our workers’ comp lawyers have received many awards and have been highly ranked by client and peer reviews from Martindale-Hubbell. Munley Law began protecting workers’ rights to compensation for on-the-job injuries in 1959. We have extensive experience representing clients in third-party lawsuits.

If you were injured at work due to the actions of a party other than a coworker or your employer, contact us for a free consultation. We can determine whether your case meets third-party claim requirements.

Wilkes-Barre Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Address Third-Party Claims

If you are unfamiliar with third-party claims, you may ask: “Can I really sue another party for my workplace injury?”

The short answer is yes. In many cases, you can sue another party for your workplace injury. Here, we will address the basic circumstances surrounding a workplace injury, to create the qualifications for this type of legal action.

wilkes-barre workers' comp lawyer If you still have questions but believe you may have a third-party case, a Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation attorney can speak with you in person to help you better understand the details of third-party claims and determine whether your situation falls within the guidelines. If so, you will be offered free representation until the attorney successfully secures your benefits.

What is a third party claim in workers’ compensation?

A third-party work injury claim is a petition filed for injuries and damages you sustained while fulfilling your duties at your workplace against someone other than your employer, your boss, or a co-worker.

In Pennsylvania, you cannot file a personal injury claim against your employer. Instead, you may apply for workers’ compensation for injuries sustained while performing your job duties.

You can however file a personal injury claim against a third party if someone other than your employer is responsible for your work-related injury. For instance, if you are a truck driver in Wilkes-Barre and you are hurt in a crash with another driver, you may bring a claim against the at-fault driver in addition to seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers ‘ compensation does not cover pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and punitive damages. Under a third-party lawsuit, however, you can be reimbursed for these types of damages.

Examples of qualifying third-party negligence claims for on the job injuries

  • The driver of another vehicle, if you suffered injuries in a traffic accident while on the job.
  •  The manufacturer of your employer’s machinery or equipment, if the equipment malfunctions and causes serious injury.
  • The owner of the hazardous property, if hazardous conditions cause you to become injured while working.

Factors Required by a Wilkes Barre Workers Comp Lawyer to Prove Negligence

pa injury attorneys munley lawA Wilkes-Barre workers’ comp lawyer can determine whether your case includes the factors necessary for proving the third party was at fault. Without this expert advice, third-party cases can seem overwhelmingly complex and may require much time for resolution.

The elements needed to provide an airtight third-party case include:

Duty of Care

It must be proven that the third party was responsible for taking precautionary measures to prevent the injury-causing incident from occurring. This is called duty of care. For example, the driver who hit you while bringing your supervisor to a job site should have been driving more slowly and should have used a signal to indicate which direction the vehicle was turning.

Breach of Duty

Your Wilkes-Barre workers’ comp attorney must prove there was a breach in the third party’s duty of care. In the case of injury caused by a vehicle accident, proof that the driver of the car which caused your injuries violated a traffic law could serve as evidence.

Cause and Effect

It must be proven that the third party’s actions or, in some cases, lack of required action, directly resulted in damages. A Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation lawyer must prove that the driver’s excessive speed and failure to use a turn signal definitively caused the accident resulting in your severe injury.

Losses and Damages

What were the results of the accident?

  • Did you sustain injuries as a direct result?
  • Did you lose your job?
  • Your ability to work in the future?
  • What additional costs did you incur as a result of your injuries?

The sum of total losses related to your injuries determines the amount you hope to recover through damages

Wilkes-Barre workers’ comp lawyers have the skills to prove these types of losses were a direct result of your third-party accident, so you win your lawsuit and be reimbursed.

Work Injuries That Qualify for a Third-Party Lawsuit in Wilkes-Barre

Employees interact with people other than co-workers every day. They use tools and equipment from various manufacturers. When something goes wrong, these parties can, in some instances, be held responsible for causing injuries.

Frequently occurring third-party workplace injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle and traffic accidents.
  • Use of flawed products due to manufacturing imperfections or insufficient warnings.
  • Exposure to toxins and various poisonous substances.
  • Construction site accidents.
  • Property liability due to owner negligence. For example, animal bites.
  • Slips and falls on third-party property.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does the Right of Subrogation Mean?

According to Wilkes-Barre laws and statutes, your employer has a right of subrogation. Even if you are already receiving benefits from a workers’ compensation claim, you can still file a third-party lawsuit.

However, if your third-party claim is successful, your employer and the insurance company have the right to recoup the money dispensed in workers’ compensation benefits. This right of subrogation was put in place to prevent a claimant from receiving double recovery for the same injury.

It also helps assure that the party who actually bears responsibility for the injury is the party held accountable, whether that may be the employer or the third party.

If a third-party lawsuit is successful and the damages are greater than the benefits you would receive through the workers’ comp claim alone, then the third-party lawsuit was a wise course of action.

If you are uncertain whether filing a third-party lawsuit is in your best interest, consult a Wilkes-Barre workers’ comp attorney, for assistance determining your best course of action.

What is the Statute of Limitations on a Third-Party Workers’ Comp Claim?

You must report any injury incurred on the job to your employer within 120 days to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. This is called the statute of limitations.

There is also a statute of limitations governing the amount of time you have to file a third-party personal injury claim – the third-party lawsuit must be filed within two years from the injury date. Failure to abide by these time limits makes the chance of pursuing a claim unlikely.

How Much Does it Cost to Pursue a Third-Party Workers’ Comp Case?

Some workplace injuries cause lifelong pain and suffering and ongoing medical bills. Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation lawyers understand these situations.

Our firm has represented many clients over the years, who have sustained various work injuries and resulting damages through the negligence of third parties. We know that being responsible for paying legal fees while unable to work and before receiving benefits, is an impossibility for many victims of work injuries.

That’s why we don’t charge a fee for services until your case is successful and you are receiving compensation. Until you receive benefits, there is no charge for consultation concerning your case or legal action we take on your behalf.  So there is no need to hesitate before giving us a call to discuss your situation and determine the wisdom of legal action.

What Steps Should I Take if a Third Party Caused My Work Injury?

Work injuries can occur at any time. Accidents happen despite safety measures.

That makes it essential to be prepared to react properly if a workplace injury occurs. Here is a list of steps that should be taken immediately following a workplace injury resulting from third-party negligence.

NOTE: While these steps are important, if your injuries are serious, always seek medical attention first.

  1. Make your report of the injury to your employer in writing, as soon as possible following its occurrence. Include details of any accident or equipment malfunction.
  2. Follow all Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.
  3. Follow all your workplace’s emergency injury protocols.
  4. Document the injuries and accident site. Take photographs. Any CCTV footage and witness accounts must be preserved.
  5. Seek medical treatment.
  6. Notify a Wilkes-Barre personal injury lawyer by contacting Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys.

How Much is My Third-Party Case Worth?

No reputable law firm will give you a dollar amount right away. It is impossible to arrive at an accurate estimate without a thorough accounting of the extent of injuries sustained, medical costs, lost wages, future expenses, and pain and suffering.

Hire a lawyer who will complete a thorough investigation. One who will not advise you to accept a settlement for an amount that is less than fair. Each case is unique. The best way to get an idea of how much compensation you might be awarded is to discuss the potential of a work injury third-party lawsuit with a knowledgeable Wilkes-Barre workers’ comp attorney.

Should I File for Workers’ Compensation or Pursue a Third-Party Claim?

You can file for both – so it’s often best to apply for workers’ comp first. A third-party case can be filed at a later date. Every situation requires assessment by an experienced workers’ comp attorney to determine whether greater benefits may be received by filing a third-party case.

Here are a few points to consider:

  •  Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. You don’t have to prove your employer’s negligence caused your injuries. You can recover medical expenses and lost wages from an injury that happened at work. Workers’ comp benefits should be comparatively easy to get, with the help of a skilled workers’ comp attorney. But workers’ comp doesn’t cover pain and suffering and losses in addition to medical bills and lost wages.
  • A third-party personal injury lawsuit requires proof that the party you are suing caused your injury. It calls for a different, potentially more complex approach. But you can be awarded pain and suffering and other damages in addition to lost wages and medical costs.

Should I Settle out of Court?

In many cases, the parties involved in a lawsuit will decide to settle out of court to save time and resources. This is allowed as a part of the regulations for arbitration and settlements. You may choose to settle out of court, but Wilkes-Barre personal injury attorneys advise against settling your case before seeking legal advice.

Often, these agreements are initiated by insurance companies and business owners, to keep from paying you the entire amount of benefits you deserve.

Without a lawyer present, there is no assurance the claim between you and the third party will be settled proactively. Whether your case is settled or proceeds to court, a Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation attorney will take action to make certain you receive fair treatment.

Wilkes Barre Workers’ Comp Attorneys Make Sure You Receive Compensation

We’re in this together; we don’t get paid unless you do, and we will do everything in our power to ensure you receive full and fair compensation.

There is no reason you should endure physical and financial suffering due to any type of injury at your workplace. Employees are quite literally the backbone of society. Workers in every field provide a product or service that’s important. Workers’ compensation exists to provide fair reimbursement for injuries incurred while fulfilling workplace duties.

Remember, even if you are currently receiving worker’s comp benefits, if someone who’s not an employee or official with your company was responsible for your workplace injury, or if a product malfunction caused you harm while on the job, you may qualify for a third-party lawsuit.

If that’s the case, a Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to obtain a more generous benefit. See what some of our clients are saying, then contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, for a free consultation, to discuss whether a third-party lawsuit may be the right approach for your case.

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