Pennsylvania Work Accidents & Medical Bills – How Your Medical Bills Get Paid (Part 2)
In the aftermath of a work accident, the injured worker and their family are often confused about getting medical bills paid. Part 1 of this article discussed how to get medical treatment via workers’ compensation in PA. Part 2 of this article below discusses how injured workers can obtain financial compensation for medical bills and treatment.
Tort Lawsuits in PA – Claims for Medical Bills & Treatment
Workers and employees who suffer serious injuries in work accidents are often surprised to learn that under Pennsylvania tort law, they have legal rights to pursue claims against other, non-employer parties. Injured workers can file civil tort or negligence lawsuits and obtain fair and reasonable financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. As a general rule, employers are usually exempt from liability in these kinds of cases. In other words, injured workers can only bring these types of claims/lawsuits against outside or third parties.
Below are two scenarios which explain this type of lawsuit.
Scenario 1 – Office worker falls due to negligence of cleaning company.
An office worker slips and falls in the lobby of an office building in downtown Philadelphia and sustains a serious knee injury. Investigation reveals that the cleaning company contracted out to clean the floors used a product which was unintended for the type of flooring (marble) and actually made the floors more slippery. This is what caused the accident to occur.
In this instance, the employee would probably be eligible to make a workers’ compensation claim with the employer and also pursue a tort lawsuit against the cleaning company.
Scenario 2 – Forklift operator is injured due to defective forklift.
A forklift operator at a warehouse in Delaware County is driving a forklift when the brake malfunctions. As a result, the operator crashes the forklift into a wall and is seriously injured. Here, the forklift operator may have a valid lawsuit against the forklift manufacturer or the company which performed maintenance on the forklift.
Claims for Medical Bills/Treatment
An injured worker can obtain compensation for past and future medical bills as well as lost wages in cases of temporary or permanent disability. This is in addition to medical treatment received via workers’ compensation. However, if the worker’s injury lawsuit is successful, Pennsylvania law requires the worker to reimburse the employer for a percentage of what the employer/insurance carrier paid out for the workers’ compensation claim. This is known as the employer’s right of subrogation. Basically, Pennsylvania law prevents an injured party from double dipping, i.e., getting medical treatment paid for by one source and then getting financial compensation for those medical bills. If the injured worker does get financial compensation for medical bills that were paid by another source (i.e., workers’ compensation), the worker is generally required to turn around and pay back at least a portion of those funds to the other source.
Time Limitation to File a Tort Lawsuit in PA
It is important to note that there is a time limitation which applies in these types of cases. Under Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations law, injured workers must file claims within 2 years of the date of the accident/injury. There are some limited exceptions, such as the fraudulent concealment exception, which applies in cases where the employer or third party’s fraud caused the employee to miss the 2 year deadline. In addition, for minors, the 2 year clock doesn’t start ticking until they turn 18. Statute of limitations issues are often very complex. It is crucial to speak to a lawyer immediately about a statute of limitations issue in any case.
Philadelphia, PA Work Accident & Injury Law Firm
Laffey, Bucci & Kent is a Philadelphia based law firm with offices throughout PA and NJ. Our lawyers specialize in work accident injury cases. Please call the firm for more information. Click To Call
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