Types of Workplace Fall Accidents
While the most common type of fall accident is a slip, trip or fall accident, there are other various types of fall accidents:
- falls from heights (roofs, scaffolds, etc.),
- falls at the workplace (trip/fall),
- other fall accidents.
Workplace falls often result in brain injuries, spinal injuries and orthopedic injuries such as broken bones. Fractured wrists and legs are common. Seriously injured workers, especially those who are unable to return to work right away, often want to know whether they are entitled to financial compensation. Below is a discussion of financial compensation in workplace fall accident cases in Pennsylvania.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Workplace Fall Accidents
As a general rule, the vast majority of workers injured in fall accidents which occur at work will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits (medical and indemnity/lost wage pay). However, there are situations in which workers injured in fall accidents will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, an injured worker must have been acting in the course and scope of employment, or acting on behalf of the employer. The general test to determine whether an injured worker is acting on behalf of the employer involves a simple question: was the worker furthering any goals of the employer? Inconsequential deviations from work duties will not prevent an injured worker from workers’ compensation eligibility. For instance, a worker who slips and falls while walking to the bathroom will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Work accidents which happen when the worker is actually working will be covered under workers’ compensation. The most common example involves a worker who is performing work at a construction site and falls off of the roof.
Workers who are injured in other fall accidents such as a slip and fall or trip and fall will generally be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, workers who are injured in these types of accidents while walking into or out of the workplace will generally be ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The key is whether the accident occurred on the employer’s premises, i.e., an employer controlled parking lot. At least one Pennsylvania court has held that an employee who is injured in a slip and fall accident in the lobby of an office building while returning from lunch is covered under workers’ compensation, so long as the office building is controlled by the employer.
Financial Compensation in Workplace Fall Accident Tort Lawsuits
In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, workers injured in fall accidents may be able to make other tort claims. These claims may be made against non-employer parties, such as a contractor or outside company. For example, a construction worker injured in a roof fall accident may have a valid legal claim against the owner of the building and/or the general contractor (the contractor in charge of the construction project).
Financial compensation in these types of claims is different from the compensation payable via a workers’ compensation claim. Injured workers may be able to make claims for medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses (out of pocket expenses). More importantly, by filing a tort lawsuit, a worker injured in a fall accident may be able to obtain financial compensation otherwise unavailable in a workers’ compensation claim. Claims for pain and suffering may be made in tort or negligence cases, whereas Pennsylvania law does not allow financial compensation for pain and suffering via workers’ compensation.
Workplace Accident Lawyers in Pennsylvania
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