Work accident and injury lawsuits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are some of the most common types of lawsuits. They typically involve an injured worker who suffered serious injuries in an accident that happened due to another party’s negligence or intentional conduct. The most common types of work accident cases include falls at work, such as roof fall accidents, slip and falls and equipment accidents (i.e., forklift accidents or factory accidents).
Work Accident Lawsuits – Factors That Affect Resolution
Filing a lawsuit might seem daunting. Most workers are not interested in spending years litigating a case. Most cases will resolve in about 1-2 years, from the time the lawsuit is actually filed. However, every case is different. In the best case scenario, a case might resolve in 12-18 months after the lawsuit is filed. In the worst case scenario, a case may take 2 or 3 years to resolve, especially if an appeal is involved.
Here are the issues that can affect the timing and final resolution of a work accident lawsuit:
- complex injuries and damages,
- novel or complex legal issues,
- multiple defendants,
- corporate defendants, and
- product injury (products liability) claims.
Complexity of the Injuries & Damages
In order to resolve a lawsuit, there must be a full assessment of the extent of the injuries and resulting damages. From a medical treatment standpoint, the injured worker should be close to having achieved what is referred to as, “maximum medical improvement,” i.e., the worker’s treatment status has plateaued. Once this is achieved, the extent of the injuries becomes well-known and understood. Any issues related to permanency, such as loss of range of motion or disfigurement, etc. will be known. The picture becomes complete and helps to ensure that the injured worker receives full, fair compensation for the injuries.
In some cases, the injuries and damages will be especially complex. Issues such as infections, repeat surgeries, and even misdiagnoses can affect the total picture. For example, a worker who is injured after a fall from a roof at a construction site breaks several bones in his leg, which requires surgery. Nearly a year after the recovery from the surgery, a bone growth in the area begins to affect the range of motion of the leg and knee. After several months, the bone growth has to be surgically removed. The timing of the second surgery, healing and recovery affects the total picture. Resolution of the case would probably be delayed.
Novel or Complex Legal Issues
The law is always changing. That’s a fact. Also, how a court rules on a given legal issues is never guaranteed. A legal theory that historically fails may suddenly succeed. For example, Pennsylvania courts typically rule against injured workers in cases where the plaintiff (injured worker) is employed by a subcontractor and sues a general contractor. PA courts often find that the subcontractor-general contractor relationship bestows a special status known as, “statutory employer,” on the general contractor. Under this doctrine, a general contractor may be deemed a “statutory employer” for purposes of PA’s workers’ compensation law which usually prevents an injured worker from suing their employer. Accordingly, the employee of the subcontractor is not allowed to sue the general contractor/statutory employer.
There are some exceptions to the statutory employer rule, and under the right circumstances, a Pennsylvania court may rule in an injured worker’s favor in lawsuits against a general contractor. This is likely to create appellate issues that can prolong the case.
Multiple or Corporate Defendants
In some work accident lawsuits, there will be a long list of defendants. It’s not uncommon for a case to be filed against anywhere between 5-15 defendants. Each one of those defendants will have a lawyer, and each lawyer will certainly file motions, requests for hearings, etc. As a general rule, the more defendants there are, the longer the case will take.
Product Injury Cases
Many injured workers are surprised to learn that their case involves a defective product case, also known as a products liability claim. These types of cases are usually very complex and involve analysis of product design and manufacture. Essentially, in order to win a products liability case, you have to prove that the product was defective in design or manufacture, or failed to come with reasonably sufficient warnings. Multiple expert witnesses are usually involved in these cases. Common experts include mechanical engineers, product engineers, materials engineers, etc. Read more about defective product injury lawsuits.
About Laffey, Bucci & Kent – Work Accident Lawyers
Our work accident lawyers are licensed in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as New York and other states. We concentrate on construction accidents, equipment accidents and other catastrophic work accidents. Our attorneys have obtained over $150 million in work injury cases alone. Over half of our attorneys are rated as a “Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney in Philadelphia, PA.”
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.