A person who is unable to work because of a job-related injury or illness in Pennsylvania is usually entitled to medical benefits and wage replacement through the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system. For example, if a crane drops a load of material that strikes and injures a construction worker, the worker would likely be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
While workers’ compensation benefits are certainly a welcome relief, they sometimes fall short of covering all expenses a worker incurs from a work-related injury or illness. Moreover, workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering, even if an accident results in life-altering injuries. In some cases, however, a worker may be entitled to pursue a third-party lawsuit for additional compensation.
What Is a Third-Party Claim?
A third-party claim is a legal claim filed by an injured party against someone for negligence. You cannot file a third-party claim against your own employer or someone who works for your employer. However, if a third party caused or contributed to your injuries or illness, then you may be able to file a third-party claim against the party.
A third-party claim is a personal injury lawsuit, meaning that you could be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover medical bills or lost wages, while non-economic damages cover pain and suffering.
Only an Worker’s Compensation can evaluate the facts and circumstances of your case to determine if you have the basis for a third-party claim. However, some common scenarios where a third-party claim might exist include:
- Product defects— If equipment you were using was defective, such as the crane in the above example, you might have a claim against the manufacturer of the equipment.
- Motor vehicle accidents – If you are driving while in the scope of employment and are in a collision, but the other driver was at fault, you may have both a workers’ compensation claim as well as a third-party claim against the other driver.
- Premises liability – If you are injured while in the scope of employment on the property of another party, you could have a third-party claim if the other party’s premises were unsafe.