No-Fault Work Injury Claims vs. Third-Party Liability Claims in Allentown

How are Worker's Compensation claims handled

When an employee gets injured on the job in Allentown, or anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania, they generally have two main types of claims to consider: Workers’ Compensation and third-party liability claims.

These claims serve different purposes and are handled through different systems. Workers’ Compensation claims are handled through the Dept. of Work Comp. However, 3rd party liability claims are handled through the “at fault” system, like any other personal injury claim.

What this means is that if, for example, a worker injures their back while performing work duties, their Allentown back/neck injury lawyers can offer three courses of action: file a work comp claim, take the case to the civil court, or both. Today, we’ll break down how each situation is handled.

How are Worker’s Compensation claims handled?

The purpose of the Workers’ Compensation system is to provide benefits to employees who get injured on the job, regardless of who was at fault. The benefits typically cover medical expenses, reimbursement for gas to all appointments, travel to and from any appointments if they do not have a car and are too injured to use public transportation, a portion of lost wages, and sometimes rehabilitation costs.

Work Comp process

The injured worker must report the injury to their employer promptly, often within a specific timeframe (in Pennsylvania, you have 120 days to report the injury to receive benefits). The employer then reports the injury to their Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier. The claim is processed according to Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation laws. Disputes over benefits may require hearings before a Workers’ Compensation Judge.

Limitations of the Work Comp system

By accepting Workers’ Compensation, employees generally forfeit the right to sue their employer for the injury, with few exceptions. This system creates a no-fault framework to ensure employees receive timely benefits without proving employer negligence. The no-fault system pays far less compensation than an at-fault third-party claim due to the system being responsible for making an injured worker as “whole” as possible, even in the event they suffered a catastrophic injury that was the injured worker’s own fault. 

What is a Third-Party Liability Claim?

These claims allow injured workers to seek compensation from parties other than their employer who may have contributed to their injury. For example, if a defective piece of equipment caused the injury, the employee might have a claim against the manufacturer. Or, if they are a driver for a living and are rear-ended or side-swiped by a third party, that liability would be a 3rd party claim against the negligence of the driver. 

3rd party liability process

The injured worker can file a lawsuit against the third party in civil court. Unlike Workers’ Compensation, the employee must prove that the third party was at fault due to negligence or other wrongful actions.

Advantages of 3rd party liability claims

The biggest benefit of third-party claims is that it can provide compensation for damages not covered by Workers’ Compensation, such as pain and suffering, full lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity.

Handling Both Claims Together

When an employee in Allentown is injured on the job and both a Workers’ Compensation claim and a third-party liability claim are viable, they can proceed with both simultaneously. However, there are important considerations:

No-Fault Work Injury Claims vs Third-Party Liability Claims in Allentown
  • Subrogation: If you receive a settlement or award from a third-party claim, the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier may have a right to be reimbursed for benefits they paid out from that settlement, a process known as subrogation. Pennsylvania law dictates how this is handled, aiming to ensure that the injured worker is not unjustly enriched but, also, not left worse off after pursuing a third-party claim.
  • Legal Representation: Given the complexity of handling both claims, especially considering subrogation rights and the intricate details of proving negligence in third-party claims, it’s highly advisable to work with an attorney. A lawyer specializing in personal injury and Workers’ Compensation can navigate both claims, negotiate with insurance companies, and work to maximize the overall compensation the injured worker receives.

Which Allentown back neck injury lawyers near me are a reliable choice?

Liberty Bell comprises some of the finest work comp and personal injury specialists on either side of the Lehigh River. With decades’ worth of experience and a long-standing reputation for reliability, we are your trusted partners in realizing your law-given rights. Reach out to us today and let us secure the maximum settlement value possible for your case!