Our Downingtown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Will Fight for You
Accidents can happen anywhere, and Downingtown homes and businesses are no exception. But when the accident happens in a workplace and the injury interferes with your ability to earn a living, the situation becomes a critically important legal matter.
A lawyer experienced in work injury can help you sort through the complex maze of legal options available so you can recoup the losses you sustained from your accident. You may avoid financial ruin because of these options.
What Are Common Workplace Accidents?
There are certain workplace environments that hold obvious dangers, such as a construction site. However, workplace injuries are not exclusive to those places. An office or even a school can be the site for significant injuries as well.
There are a few common injuries that can be found around the workplace. Those include the following:
- Lifting injuries: Numerous jobs require the lifting of heavy objects. There are others that require more repetitive lifting as opposed to heavy lifting. Lifting accidents are the most common type of accident and can lead to long-term health problems for the victim. They can cause long-term neck and back problems and prevent the person from returning to work.
- Tripping: Maintaining a tidy workplace is essential for good workplace safety. When equipment and other items are left on the ground, they can cause a tripping hazard. Other conditions can lead to poor footing, such as slippery surfaces, inadequate lighting, or a lack of handrails.
- Falling objects: This can occur regardless of the workplace and cause minor to severe injuries depending on the weight of the object that falls. It could be a large piece of machinery being hauled at a construction site or a box of files from a shelf in an office.
- Heavy machinery accidents: Operators of these machines know the risks involved. A failure to exercise proper safety techniques around them can lead to catastrophic injuries and even death. Machines such as welders, table saws, and other equipment must be treated with the utmost respect.
- Motor vehicle accidents: There are certain jobs that require you to be in a car or truck for most or part of the day. If you are injured in a car or truck accident as you are engaged in a work activity while you are on duty, this would constitute as a work injury.
- Toxic exposure: There are chemicals and toxins used in a variety of industries. In addition, dangerous materials such as asbestos has been used in buildings. When employees are exposed to these toxic chemicals and the company does nothing to protect its employees, that can make the employer liable for the illnesses caused by that exposure.
- Loud noise exposure: When working on a construction site with loud machines running all day, if an employee fails to properly protect their ears, it can cause long-term hearing damage. This can impact their ability to hear going forward.
- Repetitive movement: When you work in an office or in certain manual labor jobs, you might be required to perform the same action repeatedly throughout the day. Over time, these actions can cause wear on your muscles and eventually lead to chronic injuries involving your back, shoulders, neck, and other parts of your body.
In certain cases, accidents can be prevented with common sense and proper safety precautions. Other accident risks are long term and require proper techniques to prevent them.
What Are My Options if I Am Injured at Work?
When you experience an injury at work, it could mean multiple doctor’s visits, surgeries, and rehabilitation. That will also mean you will be missing time at work. As you see an influx of medical bills, you could also be seeing your income drop.
Fortunately, there are options for workers in Pennsylvania who are looking to recoup their losses and make up at least a portion of that lost salary. Those options are as follows:
- Workers’ compensation: Most businesses in Pennsylvania are required to carry workers’ compensation, which allows employees to file a claim to be reimbursed for their medical expenses and receive a portion of their salary. They can collect only on economic expenses. They cannot collect on non-economic expenses such as pain and suffering and loss of quality of life. The insurance is no-fault, meaning that even if the worker caused the accident that led to their injuries, they can still collect workers’ compensation. The only condition is they are prohibited from filing a claim against their company for its role in the accident.
- Third-party liability claim: You may not be able to file a claim against your company because of your accident, but that does not mean you are prohibited from filing a personal injury claim against a third party. For instance, if you were injured at work because of a failure with a machine, you could file a case against the manufacturer of the machine. In these cases, you have the flexibility to seek compensation for non-economic claims; however, depending on what you receive, it could impact your workers’ compensation benefits.
In Pennsylvania, nothing is preventing you from filing for workers’ compensation and a third-party lawsuit. However, for the latter, you will have to prove the third party bears some liability for your accident. It is best to consult with a work injury lawyer to determine how best to proceed.
What Is the Workers’ Compensation Process?
After you sustain an injury at work, you must report it to your supervisor within 90 days of when the injury occurred. The employer will then file it with their insurance company, which will determine whether to approve it. In the meantime, you should seek medical attention, but in the first 120 days from your accident, it must be with a doctor of your company’s choosing. After 90 days, you can use your own doctor.
If your benefits are approved, you may have to negotiate for a final compensation package, but it should cover all your current and future medical expenses and reimburse you for a portion of your salary while you are not working. If you are unable to return to work, workers’ compensation may also pay to train you for another career. If you are denied benefits, you can appeal that decision and your case will be decided by a judge over the course of a series of hearings.
How Does Third-Party Liability Work?
Although workers’ compensation is an excellent benefit for workers because it assures them that their workplace accident will not result in severe financial hardship, it is also limited in the compensation it provides. While it will pay for your bills, it will not cover all your salary, nor can you be guaranteed that it will cover all your bills. In addition, you cannot seek compensation for the mental and emotional trauma associated with your injury.
To seek that out, you will need to file a third-party liability claim. This is when you file a claim with a third party for their role in your accident. Potential third-party claims could include:
- The manufacturer of a defective machine on the worksite.
- A driver of another vehicle involved in your car accident.
- An outside contractor operating machinery on the worksite.
Since these are considered personal injury cases, they are more complicated than a standard workers’ compensation case. Although workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, in a third-party liability claim, you must prove that the third parties’ action directly led to your accident. It can be a difficult threshold to meet. Before moving forward, speak with a workplace injury lawyer who can advise you on whether a case is worth pursuing.
One thing to note if you pursue a third-party litigation claim is your employer maintains a right to subjugation. In other words, if you are successful in your third-party claim, your employer has the right to demand that you pay back any money that has already been paid out of workers’ compensation for your injuries. The reason for this is the commonwealth wants to prevent workers from getting paid twice for the same injury. However, if you are paid more from your third-party case than workers’ compensation, you do not have to return the excess compensation.
Downingtown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Can Explain Your Legal Options Following a Workplace Accident
The legal options following your workplace injury can be complicated. You may not know what options work for you or how one will impact the other. The Downingtown workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC can steer you through the process and help you arrive at a good conclusion for you and your family. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation today. We are located in Exton, Pennsylvania, where we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.