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Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Friday, April 21, 2017

Can I sue my employer if I slipped and fell at work?

Workers in Pennsylvania who slip and fall at work can suffer severe injuries including fractures, muscle sprains, head concussions, spinal injuries or even broken bones. These injuries can put them out of work for a while causing them to lose out on their wages.

Generally, when you are injured because of the negligence of someone, you have a cause of action against that person. You can claim full compensation for the injuries you sustained.  But does that person include your employer? Can you sue your employer for a workplace injury? The short answer is no but there are third parties you can sue and claim from. An experienced workers’ compensation or slip and fall accident attorney can help answer all of your questions, but for now, read on.

Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Act

Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws bar employees from suing their employers or their co-workers for injuries occurring in the work place even if the injuries were caused by the negligence of either party. This means you cannot sue your employer for a slip and fall injury you got at work.

Pennsylvania has a no-fault workers’ compensation system where injured employees can claim injury benefits arising from work place injuries. They do not have to prove negligence. They simply prove they were injured and they are compensated for medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses and partial lost wages. Ultimately, it’s a trade-off; the employee loses his/her tort rights to sue for negligence in exchange for prompt compensation.

The Problem With Workers’ Compensation

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not cover certain injuries such as pain and suffering. It also does not reimburse lost wages in full for the period the injured employee is out of work.

Example

James works at a fast food restaurant in Philadelphia. During one of his busy afternoon shifts, he walked onto a wet surface in the kitchen, slipped and fell. He sprained his ankle and fractured one of the bones on his left leg. He couldn’t walk for two months. Worker’s compensation paid him for his medical expenses but not for the pain and suffering he underwent. He also wasn’t fully compensated for the wages he’d lost in the two months he was out of work.

Exception - Employers Without Workers’ Compensation Insurance Can Be Sued

Noteworthy, employers are immune to personal injury lawsuits by employees only so long as they maintain the mandatory workers’ compensation insurance. If they do not maintain the insurance, they lose their statutory immunity and can be sued by employees for workplace injuries.

Who Else Can You Sue? Third Parties

While you are statutorily barred from suing your employer, in some instances, you can sue third parties for work place slip and fall injuries. Many companies hire maintenance firms to clean their offices, loading docks, warehouses or premises. They may even hire them to maintain their compounds or fill potholes in their parking lot. If these third parties are negligent in their work and an employee is injured, he/she can sue the third party.

For example, if you slipped and fell on the parking lot of your office building because the pavement was not level, you can sue the company retained to maintain the parking lot.

Other third parties include:

  • The building owner if your employer has leased a business premise
  • The property manager.

Say you work at a retail store that has a leaky roof. You’ve brought this to the attention of your building’s owner but he does not do anything because commercial premises are in high demand. One morning, you slip on a puddle of leaked water and fall. You are seriously injured. You can sue the property manager for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Temporary disability
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earnings
  • Pain and suffering

You’ll notice you can claim more damages from suing third parties than you would receive from workers’ compensation. You can even be compensated for your pain and suffering!

If you slipped and fell at work, contact the Pennsylvania slip and fall attorneys at Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates today. It may just be your first step to getting full compensation.

 


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