You go to work each day. You mind your business, do your job, and work hard to earn a living. Then, something goes terribly wrong. You are seriously injured while on the job, and you are no longer able to work. Thankfully, you have rights. Now comes the important question that has the ability to significantly impact your future – Can I file a personal injury lawsuit after being injured at work?
Unfortunately, there is not a simple “yes” or “no” to this answer. The exact circumstances surrounding each case are very different, and all of the details will need to be closely examined before any type of legal action can be taken. The fact of the matter is that injuries at work do happen, and even the most hardworking and rule abiding individuals run the risk of facing serious injuries that could significantly impact both their quality of life and careers.
After an injury has occurred, the first step is to determine whether the scenario qualifies for a personal injury lawsuit or a workers’ compensation claim.
What is the Difference Between Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation?
Essentially, it all boils down to one detail: fault. In order to file a personal injury lawsuit, you must be able to prove that you were injured because of someone else’s negligence. Conversely, you can file a workers’ compensation claim no matter what – whether you made an error that caused your injuries or no one did anything wrong.
Remember: Just because you are injured does not necessarily mean that someone did something wrong. In fact, incidences where no one is at fault happen all the time.
What is Involved in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you think that your injury qualifies for a personal injury lawsuit, you first need to hire an experienced attorney. The most important aspect of any personal injury lawsuit is being able to prove that your injury was caused because of negligence. If you can prove that someone else is at fault and the injury could have been prevented, then you have strong case for a personal injury lawsuit.
However, personal injury lawsuits cannot be filed against employers or co-workers. This means that you must be able to prove that the negligence of a third party caused your injury.
For instance, if an assembly line worker lost a limb in a piece of machinery, they are barred in Pennsylvania from suing their employee. However, they might be able to pursue a successful personal injury lawsuit if it is determine that the manufacturer of the machinery made a defective product or failed to provide proper safety measures that led to the injury.
What is Involved in a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In order to file a workers’ compensation claim, you simply have to be injured in some way. You do not have to prove that your workplace, employers, and/or co-workers were negligent. In fact, even if you were injured because of your own negligence, you are still capable of receiving workers’ compensation benefits. There are plenty of situations where individuals are injured at work where no one is at fault, and these are the instances where it makes the most sense to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Note: Your right to workers’ compensation is invalid if it is determined that you intentionally self-inflicted an injury and/or laws were violated, such as being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Is it Possible to File Both a Personal Injury Lawsuit and Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In the vast majority of cases, if you recover damages through a workers’ compensation claim, you cannot also file a personal injury lawsuit. This prevents injured workers from suing their employers and/or other employees. However, there is always an exception to the rule. This is where the expertise of a personal injury attorney can come into play.
What Types of Damages are Covered by a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you are successful in your personal injury lawsuit, you are entitled to receive compensation that will cover all of the damages you experienced because of your injury. Let’s say that you were severely injured at work and ended up losing one of your extremities. You would be able to receive benefits to cover your existing medical expenses, future medical bills, pain and suffering, permanent impairment, current lost earnings, future lost earning potential, and every other area of your life that was impacted by the injury.
As one of the top personal injury law firms in Pennsylvania, Ross Feller Casey has a proven track record of obtaining seven- and eight-figure recoveries for clients and their families. For example, our attorneys obtained $10 million for the family of a 40-year-old welder who was killed when a pressurized tank exploded. Additionally, $8 million was recovered for a factory worker who was injured while on the job.
If you or a loved one have been injured at work, contact the attorneys at Ross Feller Casey to find out if your situation qualifies for a personal injury lawsuit.