Workers’ Comp – There May Be Much More Available in Compensation for Serious Injuries
Workers’ comp benefits in a Philadelphia work accident case aren’t the be-all-end-all. In fact, comp benefits hardly keep an injured worker and their family afloat. Financially, all workers’ comp benefits do is provide medical benefits and a portion of lost wages if a work related disability occurs. That’s why injured workers in Philadelphia grin and bear it, returning to work when they aren’t 100%.
When major injuries occur, returning to work might not be a possibility which means significant financial hardship. Enter work injury lawsuits. In Philadelphia work accident cases, workers’ compensation and work injury law often get confused. Workers’ comp claims and work injury lawsuits are completely separate under Pennsylvania law. Below are some of the most common questions about workers’ comp and work injury law, answered by our Philadelphia work accident lawyers.
What’s the difference between a workers’ compensation lawyer and a work injury lawyer?
A workers’ compensation lawyer handles workers’ comp claims under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. This law details every aspect of workers’ comp benefits: medical treatment, indemnity, etc., including claims info, payment info, timelines, etc. Compensation amounts for lost wages due to a work related disability are set out in the law, as are payments for loss of a body part or death. While employers can pay the costs of a workers’ comp claim, it’s more common for a workers’ compensation insurance company to oversee the claim and make all monetary payments.
On the other hand, a work injury lawyer seeks monetary compensation for an injured worker outside of any workers’ comp benefits. Work injury law is a type of personal injury law, where the lawyer takes a look at liability (negligence) of third parties, i.e, parties other than the injured workers’ employer. Compensation usually comes from an insurance policy, such as a general commercial policy.
Injured workers in Philadelphia often make the mistake of only filing a workers’ comp claim, or waiting too long to seek help from a work injury lawyer. Rarely do you find lawyers who do both types of law. Instead, given the complexity of both areas of law, most lawyers pick one or the other.
Can I file both types of claims?
Absolutely. There is no limitation in the types of claims available to an injured worker. Also, the claims do not depend on the other. In theory, an injured worker could forego a workers’ comp claim and just file a work injury lawsuit or vice versa.
Oftentimes, an injured worker doesn’t pursue a lawsuit until it’s too late. Generally, Pennsylvania’s two year statute of limitations applies to all work injury lawsuits. That’s two years from the date of the injury. If a case isn’t filed within the two year period, the case would be time-barred or thrown out. So, it’s critical to get legal help ASAP. Doing so can help preserve valuable evidence and of course, ensure that the case isn’t time-barred.
It’s important to note that in the event a work injury lawsuit is successful (i.e., there is a financial compensation award) and the individual received workers’ comp benefits, PA law requires the individual to repay a portion of the workers’ comp benefits that were paid out on their behalf. The specific amount is set out in the workers’ compensation law. This is known as the law of subrogation and is well-established in work injury cases in Philadelphia.
Should I hire a workers’ compensation lawyer and a work injury lawyer?
If there is a valid work injury lawsuit against another party other than the employer, it is advisable to hire both a workers’ compensation lawyer and a work injury lawyer. At the very least, an injured worker in Philadelphia who makes a workers’ comp claim should get their case evaluated by a work injury lawyer. This ensures that the injured worker receives maximum compensation for their injuries. This is especially important in major injury cases where an injured worker can’t return to work because the injuries are so severe.
How do work injury lawyers get paid?
Work injury and accident lawyers in Philadelphia get paid on contingency. So does a workers’ compensation lawyer. This means the injured worker doesn’t actually pay anything unless and until the case produces an actual recovery. Here are two examples to explain how these types of lawyers get paid.
Work Injury Lawyer Fees
A work injury lawyer in Philadelphia usually charges a fee between 33% and 40%. This means that on a $100,000 recovery, the injured worker pays the attorney between $33,000 and $40,000 of the financial award. This amount may seem high, but these types of cases often require an enormous amount of time and resources. If a case is unsuccessful and the lawyer invested $20,000 of resources, including money spent on the investigation, court costs, and the attorney’s own time, the attorney is out of luck, not the client. Since the attorney bears 100% of the financial risk, a 33%-40% fee is pretty standard.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Fees
A workers’ compensation lawyer in Philadelphia is limited to a statutory maximum recovery of no more than 20% of the injured workers’ compensation benefits. An injured worker who receives $1,000 per week in workers’ comp benefits would pay the workers’ comp lawyer no more than $200 per week (or $800 per month). Alternatively, if a lump sum is paid out on a workers’ comp claim, the workers’ comp lawyer’s fee would be no more than 20%.
How do I vet a potential lawyer I’m looking to hire?
There are several things to look for. First, experience is critical. Work injury lawsuits are won or lost based on how thorough the investigation is and how prepared the lawyer is. That means having extensive knowledge of OSHA regulations, knowing the ins and outs of different types of worksites and also understanding how complex worksite projects like construction sites operate. An experienced work injury lawyer or workers’ comp lawyer should be able to provide you with a list of at least two dozen (or more) work injury cases they have handled.
Second, do your due diligence and call the Pennsylvania Bar Association to be sure that the lawyer has maintained their law license and has no ongoing ethics cases.
Third, take the time to read real (not fake) reviews. Ask the lawyer for the names of prior clients who would speak to you. Some lawyers treat their clients terribly, never returning calls or otherwise treating clients disrespectfully. You should find a lawyer who treats you well.
Get more info about work injury lawsuits in Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia Work Injury Law Firm – Over $150 Million Recovered in Work Injury Lawsuits Alone
Our law firm focuses on work injury lawsuits in the greater Philadelphia area, including the surrounding counties and New Jersey. Firm founders, Jeff Laffey, Paul Bucci and Brian Kent have been rated as “Top Personal Injury Lawyers in Philadelphia” by Super Lawyers magazine for over 10 years.
Our work injury lawyers are licensed in multiple states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, New York and more. Contact us for a free consultation. 215.399.9255
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