Page last reviewed and updated: May 16, 2017
Each year, thousands of Philadelphia residents are injured in work accidents. While the majority of those workers will return to work without any problems, many will suffer long-lasting or permanent symptoms. In some cases, injured workers will become completely disabled and will not be able to return to work at all. That’s why it’s crucial to get maximum, fair compensation.
Related: Top Work Accident Lawsuit Cases in Pennsylvania & New Jersey [Posted on April 27, 2017]
Maximize Compensation for Your Work Injuries
Practically every single worker in Philadelphia knows that if they get injured on the job, they can file for workers’ compensation benefits in PA. After all, we’re used to seeing the workers’ compensation benefits posters in the break room or lunch room. However, what the vast majority of injured workers don’t know is that they may be able to receive compensation over and above workers’ compensation by filing an injury lawsuit.
Hands down, the most common reason injured workers don’t pursue injury lawsuits is lack of knowledge. They simply don’t know about their legal rights. Employers certainly don’t inform them, and some lawyers who handle workers’ compensation claims aren’t necessarily keeping a lookout for these kinds of claims.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Limited
Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, benefits are limited to medical treatment and indemnity (or lost pay in the event of a temporary or permanent disability). However, the system isn’t designed to provide full compensation. That’s why indemnity payments are capped based on a statutory payment schedule which is determined by the worker’s average weekly wage. In a nutshell, the average worker will get roughly 66% of their weekly wages paid by workers’ comp. That often leaves a large hole in the finances. Injured workers will often return to work as soon as possible to minimize the financial strain. This can create long-lasting pain symptoms and complications.
Get Compensated for Your Pain & Suffering
Under the workers’ compensation system in PA, injured workers are not eligible to receive compensation for pain and suffering. However, injured workers can receive financial compensation for pain and suffering by filing a work injury lawsuit. This is in addition to compensation for medical bills and lost wages, even those that were already paid under a workers’ comp claim. If an injured worker obtains workers’ comp benefits and then later obtains a financial recovery in a work accident lawsuit, the worker would probably be required to reimburse the employer for at least a percentage of what it paid out on the comp claim. This is mandated in the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. These claims are known as subrogation claims and are very common in work injury cases in Philadelphia.
Filing a Philadelphia Work Accident & Injury Lawsuit
Many injured workers in Philadelphia have limited experience with the civil legal system. One of the most common questions an injured worker has is, “what’s involved in a work injury lawsuit?” Below are the most common questions and answers related to a work injury lawsuit.
Do you have a case?
Every case is different, and not every case will result in a work injury lawsuit. The key is whether a non-employer party is at fault. Generally, a Pennsylvania worker cannot receive workers’ comp benefits and then turn around and sue the employer for negligence in causing a work accident. This is a basic principle of the workers’ compensation system, although there are some exceptions.
However, injured workers can file tort (injury) lawsuits against other parties. The most common example involves a factory worker or construction worker who is injured due to a defective product. For instance, a construction worker at a job site in Philadelphia is injured when a crane collapses and strikes him. There may be claims against the crane operating company as well as the manufacturer of the crane. Naturally, these types of claims are very complex and will require a comprehensive evaluation by a lawyer experienced in work related equipment accidents.
It is important to note that other legal issues may come into play. For instance, the statute of limitations may be an issue in a wrongful death action in a Philadelphia work injury case. There may be other issues to consider, such as whether the injuries justify proceeding with the case. In some instances, what appears to be a catastrophic injury may heal completely without any residual symptoms. For instance, an injured worker suffers what appears to a serious spinal fracture and luckily heals completely 1 year later. There is a valid claim against an equipment manufacturer, but the case is likely to require a trial with significant expert fees. In this instance, it may not be financially beneficial to proceed with the case.
What can you expect?
Once it’s determined that there is a case, the next step is filing a lawsuit. The lawsuit begins with the filing of a legal document known as a complaint. It lists the parties and gives a brief summary of the facts, injuries and nature of damages. After the complaint is filed and the parties are served with the complaint, the case begins.
The parties will engage in discovery which involves exchanging evidence (documents, pictures, etc.) and then conducting depositions of each other and witnesses, if necessary. Then, experts may be consulted and the case moves along for resolution.
What’s the most probable outcome?
Most often, the end result is a settlement. In fact, in nine out of ten work injury cases, the parties will resolve the case by mutual agreement. This often involves financial compensation. However, most cases get hung up on the settlement amount. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case will be tried. Pennsylvania courts, especially ones in Philadelphia, encourage the parties to settle. This is due to the sheer number of cases in the civil courts. If every case was tried, there would be a huge backlog of cases. Therefore, judges in Philadelphia often require more than one settlement conference. In fact, in a complex work injury case in Philadelphia, it’s not uncommon for there to be multiple settlement conferences, both formal and informal.
How do work injury lawyers get paid?
Work injury lawyers are usually paid on a contingency fee basis. The lawyer pays all the costs upfront, such as expert fees, court costs, etc. Then if the case is successful, the lawyer takes a fee and recoups the costs. If the case is not successful, the client does not owe anything to the lawyer. Basically, the lawyer assumes all the risk. This is how a standard contingency fee agreement works.
Philadelphia Work Accident Injury Law Firm – Highly Rated by Our Clients
Getting maximum, fair compensation for work injuries will require help from a knowledgeable and experienced work injury law firm. Like with the medical profession where there are different specialties, there are many types of lawyers. Some only handle criminal cases, and others only handle family matters. Even among personal injury lawyers, there are some that don’t handle work accident cases at all, or only handle a few cases a year.
Firm Work Injury Case Results: Millions recovered for workers injured in PA and NJ
Insurance companies pay attention to the firms that get big case results in work injury cases and those that don’t. They also pay attention to the lawyers who are not afraid to spend the money to properly prepare a case for trial. These days, trial costs can easily exceed $50,000 or $100,000 dollars. Some lawyers simply don’t have the know-how or financial resources to pay these costs. This often leaves the client at a significant disadvantage.
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