Can You File a Work Injury Lawsuit in Philadelphia?
Work injury and accident cases are one of the most common types of lawsuits filed in the Philadelphia court system. In some instances, cases will be filed in federal court, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which is located in Philadelphia.
However, many work injury cases will be filed in Philadelphia. This is known as venue, or which county the case is allowed to be filed in. Under Pennsylvania civil procedure rules, a work injury case may be filed in Philadelphia if any of the following criteria are met:
- the defendant/individual resides in Philadelphia,
- the defendant/business has a registered office in Philadelphia,
- the defendant/business has a principal place of business in Philadelphia,
- the defendant/business regularly conducts business or operates in Philadelphia,
- the accident/injury occurred in Philadelphia, or
- a transaction or part of the accident occurred in Philadelphia.
The list of criteria which determines venue is quite long. This explains why many work injury and accident cases are filed in Philadelphia. In addition, because of its size and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, many shipping, warehousing and transportation companies operate in and around the Philadelphia area. Coincidentally, the warehousing and transportation industries account for some of the highest rates of work accidents in Pennsylvania. Therefore, a work accident may occur in one of Philadelphia’s surrounding counties, such as Delaware County or Montgomery County. However, rather than filing the case in those counties, the case may be filed in Philadelphia.
One of the main benefits to filing a work injury case in Philadelphia is the court case management system in Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s local court assigns cases to specific “tracks” which are designed to resolve cases in an efficient manner. Surrounding counties do not use such systems. Therefore, a case may take considerably longer to resolve in the surrounding counties.
Recent Work Accident Client Review: Review of Jeff Laffey, Phila. Work Accident Case (February 23, 2015) “Mr. Laffey assured me though it may take time, he would find the truth. In the end, he recovered enough for my family and I to be comfortable until I got back on my feet.” James Rogers
How Work Injury & Accident Lawsuits are Handled in the Philadelphia Court System
At the outset, it’s important to note that work injury and accident lawsuits are separate and distinct from workers’ compensation claims. In fact, many workers confuse the two and merely assume that their only legal recourse after a work injury is filing a workers’ compensation claim. This is completely untrue.
Pennsylvania law specifically recognizes the right of an injured worker to file what is known as a “third party lawsuit” against non-employer parties for negligent conduct which led to the accident. This is especially important because for seriously injured workers, the civil justice system can accomplish what workers’ compensation cannot – financial recovery for pain and suffering, in addition to past and future damages such as lost earnings and medical expenses.
Work injury lawsuits are treated much like any other civil case. The injured party/plaintiff files a lawsuit against the wrongdoer/defendant. In a work injury case, there are often multiple defendants. This is due to the complex nature of most work injury cases. Oftentimes, there are two or three defendants. In some cases, there may be five or more. It’s not uncommon for there to be five or six defendants in a commercial construction accident case.
A lawsuit begins with the filing of a complaint, a legal pleading which details the plaintiff’s allegations about how the accident occurred, who was at fault and what the injuries/damages are. Once the complaint is served on all the parties, the litigation process begins. That includes multiple phases:
- pleadings phase,
- discovery phase, and
- settlement/trial phase.
After the pleadings are filed, the parties begin the discovery phase which is broken down into two subparts: written and verbal/testimonial discovery. During the written discovery phase, the parties exchange written answers to questions, known as Interrogatories. In addition, the parties exchange physical evidence, like records, reports, pictures, etc., via what are known as Requests for Production of Documents. After the written discovery is completed, the parties begin the verbal/testimonial discovery phase which includes depositions of the parties, any expert witnesses and other key witnesses, such as an eyewitness.
Resolving a Work Injury Lawsuit
In Philadelphia, the vast majority of work injury and accident cases are settled before they even get to trial. Under local court rules, the parties will participate in a mandatory settlement conference, held before a judge pro tempore, a special judge assigned to facilitate settlement. While some cases will actually settle at this point, the majority will not and the attorneys will prepare to go to trial. Cases may settle at any time, even during trial and afterwards. In addition, the parties may agree to have the case resolved privately either through a private mediation or arbitration. These are less costly than trial and are highly encouraged by judges in Philadelphia because they free up trial dockets which are often backlogged.
About Our Work Injury & Accident Law Group
Our lawyers are experienced in handling work injury cases including construction accidents, forklift accidents, machinery accidents, etc. Combined, our lawyers have recovered roughly $150 million on behalf of our clients. Read more about our Philadelphia work injury lawyers.
We also have offices in New Jersey, Delaware and New York. Our lawyer are licensed in multiple states and have the resources to handle matters nationwide.
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