Each year in Philadelphia, hundreds of workers and employees are injured while on the job. In many cases, the injuries are very serious. Back injuries, spinal injuries, broken bones and head injuries can result in thousands of dollars of medical expenses and temporary or permanent disability from work.
Getting fully compensated after a major work accident in Philadelphia often requires help from a Philadelphia work injury law firm in order to determine liability of all parties, not just the employer. In many cases, an injured worker or employee will have a valid third party lawsuit, which may enable them to recover financial compensation beyond any workers’ compensation benefits.
Many injured workers in Philadelphia are misinformed about their legal rights after a work accident happens. You may not know of your legal right to file a civil negligence lawsuit against a third party, i.e., person, business, company, etc., other than your employer, whose negligence led to the accident and injuries. Any such lawsuit would be in addition to, or on top of, any workers’ compensation claim. In other words, injured workers may have both a workers’ compensation claim and a third party claim if the facts of the case allow for a third party recovery.
There are multiple types of claims, depending on the circumstances of a given case. The potential defendants in an injured worker’s third party civil lawsuit can include any business, company, general contractor, subcontractor, owner, architect, and more, so long as it is not the injured party’s employer. There may be a products liability claim against a tool or equipment manufacturer or distributor. There may be a negligent repair or maintenance claim against a machine maintenance company.
As a general rule, employees cannot bring negligence lawsuits against employers for a work accident. This is the underlying principle of workers’ compensation law in Pennsylvania. In exchange for receiving workers’ compensation benefits from the employer, an employee is not allowed to sue the employer for a tort claim, i.e., work injury lawsuit. There are, however, many rather complex exceptions. One of the most commonly litigated exceptions is the intentional tort exception. If the employer engages in intentional conduct (fraud, deceit, etc.) which results in injury, the injured employee may be able to file a lawsuit against the employer.
Individuals and businesses alike may be liable for negligence which leads to an accident. Negligence is generally defined as doing something you should not do or failing to do something you are supposed to do. Because work accidents vary widely, there are many different types of claims made in third party liability cases. Below are two of the most common types of third party work accident cases.
On any given residential and commercial building worksite, literally dozens of contractors may be performing work, and all the work is overseen by a general or prime contractor. When a construction accident happens, any one of the contractors and/or the general contractor may be liable in a third party case. The classic example involves a general contractor who is liable for failing to provide fall protection gear, and as a result, a worker falls from the roof and suffers major injuries.
When a work accident occurs in a factory or other industrial setting such as a distribution warehouse, machinery manufacturers and/or machinery maintenance companies may be liable in a third party liability case. Claims against a machinery manufacturer are usually based on defective design of the machinery/equipment involved in the accident. Claims against a machinery maintenance company are usually based on negligence in maintenance For instance, a punch press machine repair company may be liable in a case in which it continually serviced a machine for the same problem, which then caused a worker to get caught in the machine.
Like most states, Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. For the vast majority of injured workers, this means that the Statute of Limitations will expire two years from the date of the accident.
There are some exceptions to the Statute of Limitations. For example, the Statute of Limitations may be tolled where there is sufficient evidence that a defendant engaged in fraudulent conduct or fraudulent concealment.
Another exception to the Statute of Limitations is the discovery rule. Under this rule, the Statute of Limitations expires not two years from the date of the injury, but two years from the date a plaintiff discovered that he or she was injured and that the injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
A perfect example of a “discovery rule” situation would be when a worker is diagnosed with mesothelioma many years after his/her exposure to asbestos. That worker would have two years from the date of the diagnosis to institute a third party case against all appropriate entities.
Statute of Limitations issues are time sensitive and fact specific. Each case requires careful analysis by a qualified, experienced work accident attorney.
Our law firm focuses on work injury and accident cases across the greater Philadelphia area, including Montgomery County, Delaware County, etc. The firm accepts all types of work accident cases including construction accidents, factory accidents, forklift accidents and more. Our lawyers have recovered over $150 million in work injury cases alone and are rated as Top Personal Injury Lawyers in Philadelphia by Super Lawyers magazine.
Because construction sites are busy places, multiple parties may be held liable for a construction accident injury. Injured workers have the legal right to seek compensation for negligence committed by general contractors, subcontractors, owners, architects, etc.
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