PA Workers’ Compensation – The Exclusivity Rule
The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation scheme is like a double edged sword. On the one hand, workers’ compensation helps workers who are injured in on the job accidents by paying for medical treatment and also disability, both short term and long term. However, on the other hand, this guarantee comes with a price – employers who provide workers’ compensation benefits are generally immune from being sued for negligent acts that lead to an employee’s work related injury. This immunity is known as the “exclusivity rule,” because workers’ compensation is designed to be the exclusive remedy in a work accident case.
For example, an employee of a construction company falls from a roof because the employer failed to install guardrails and provide personal fall arrest equipment. In general, the workers’ compensation laws in Pennsylvania would prohibit the injured worker from bringing suit against his employer, the construction company. In other words, the construction company would be immune from liability for negligence in failing to install guardrails and/or failing to provide fall protection gear.
This immunity from liability often creates situations in which employers shirk safety obligations, and this can lead to disastrous results in specific industries, such as the construction or industrial industry. These industries are powered by heavy equipment, like cranes, forklifts, etc., which are very dangerous and can result in a catastrophic accident or worse, fatality.
Related: Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law – The Basics (Part A)
PA Workers’ Compensation – Exceptions to the Exclusivity Rule
It is important to note, however, that there are some narrowly carved exceptions to this general rule of no liability. For instance, in Pennsylvania, if a work injury/accident is of a personal nature, i.e., is directed at the worker as an individual, rather than as an employee, the employer may be sued for negligence which contributes to the injury. For example, if a worker with a history of aggressive behavior singles out another worker and subsequently beats him, while on the job, the employer may be held liable for failing to prevent the assault.
There are other exceptions, such as the dual persona and intentional conduct exceptions. It is vital for workers injured on the job to consult with a knowledgeable work accident lawyer to discuss these exceptions and whether they apply.
Related construction accident law articles:
- Employer Liability for Work Related Accidents in Pennsylvania
- Liability in a Construction Accident Case
- PA & NJ Construction Accident Lawsuits: Heavy Equipment Accident Cases
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