Workers who are injured in work accidents in the Philadelphia area often want to know whether they are eligible for financial compensation and if so, how much compensation they can receive.
At the outset, it is important to note that injured workers may be eligible for both workers’ compensation benefits as well as additional financial compensation via a work accident lawsuit.
For example, a worker at a factory in Northeast Philadelphia is injured while operating a forklift or other piece of equipment. The worker suffers serious injuries and needs extensive medical treatment. Due to the injuries, the worker cannot return to work. After investigation by a work accident lawyer in Philadelphia, it is determined that the equipment malfunctioned due to faulty repair by an outside maintenance company. The injured worker therefore has a valid lawsuit against the maintenance company and can also file a workers’ compensation claim.
Financial Compensation in Pennsylvania Work Accident Lawsuits
Under Pennsylvania law, an at-fault party is required to compensate the injured party for any and all reasonably related injuries and damages which flow from the wrongful act (negligence or intentional). Financial compensation in work accident lawsuits is based on two types of damages: economic and non-economic.
Related: How to Win a Work Accident Lawsuit in Pennsylvania
What are Economic Damages in a Work Accident Lawsuit?
Economic damages compensate the injured party for financial losses which generally include medical bills, lost wages, etc. In a work accident lawsuit, the injured worker can make a claim for any medical bills and lost wages, including those already paid for via the workers’ compensation claim. In the event the lawsuit results in financial proceeds, the injured worker will then be required to reimburse the employer/workers’ compensation insurance carrier according to a statutory calculation. This is known as subrogation.
Future Economic Expenses
In serious or catastrophic injury cases, injured workers can make claims for any and all reasonably anticipated future expenses, including medical treatment and lost wages. For instance, a worker who loses a limb in a work accident due to a crush injury would be able to make a claim for future medical expenses, such as additional, necessary reconstructive surgeries and/or future therapy. In addition, if the worker is unable to resume any and all work duties, there would be a claim for future lost wages, also known as a future earning capacity claim.
What are Non-Economic Damages in a Work Accident Lawsuit?
Non-economic damages are designed to compensate the injured party for the physical pain and mental suffering caused by the accident and injuries. Basically, non-economic damages are known as pain and suffering damages. In a work accident case, financial compensation for pain and suffering will depend on the following types of factors:
- any permanent injuries (physical or mental),
- future prognosis and outlook,
- effects of the injuries on the individual, and
- permanent disability from gainful employment.
Like with future economic damages claims, an injured worker may also make a claim for future pain and suffering. These types of claims would be appropriate in catastrophic injury cases where future medical treatment is expected or where there are serious, permanent injuries and/or a disability.
Related: PA Work Accident Q&A: compensation for work injuries
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