Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, eligible employees in out state are protected if they sustain a serious work injury. The Act is written in such a way that almost every employee in Pennsylvania, even part-time and seasonal workers, are covered; it’s a strong program, and it has helped protect millions of people and their families when the worst comes to pass.
Sometimes, however, the Act doesn’t cover all of the damages an employee sustains. And in some cases, there’s an additional negligent party who is responsible for the injuries. If this is the case, the injured worker can file a personal injury lawsuit on top of the claim for workers’ compensation.
An example of third-party liability
Bob works for a flower shop, and he is asked to deliver a bouquet to a place across town. While he is crossing through an intersection, a distracted driver blows through the red light and crashes into Bob’s car. Bob sustains serious injuries: a broken leg, a fractured collar bone, a ruptured disc in his back, and a sprained wrist. He is, of course, injured and unable to work.
Because Bob sustained these injuries while in the course of his job duties, he is entitled to workers’ compensation, which will pay out for lost wages and his medical bills. However, because he was hit by a negligent driver, he can also file a claim against the person who hit him. This claim will cover the costs of his property damage, and he may also be awarded compensation for his pain and suffering.
What you should know about liens on injury awards
If Bob is successful in his personal injury claim, he will receive compensation not only for the property damage and pain, but also for his lost time at work, medical bills, and any other damages that may apply. But Bob has already been paid out for wages and medical bills by his workers’ compensation carrier. Under Pennsylvania laws, the workers’ compensation carrier can take a lien against Bob’s award, and ask for reimbursement for a portion for the money they paid out. Generally speaking, this is about 2/3 of their costs.
It works like this: Bob is paid $60,000 by his workers’ compensation carrier, and awarded $250,000 in his injury lawsuit. Obviously, the lawsuit led to a larger award. The carrier, then, can as for reimbursement for 2/3 of the $60,000 they paid out, or $40,000. Therefore, Bob must pay $40,000 back to his insurance carrier.
If you sustain an injury during the course of your job duties, and there is a negligent third-party involved, you should speak with an attorney. You may be able to secure a better, more just compensation award by filing a claim, even if you are already collecting from workers’ compensation. At Larry Pitt & Associates, we’ve represented injure workers in Philadelphia for more than 35 years; we can advise you about what to do next. Please call 1.888.PITT.LAW or visit our website.