Workplace accidents can happen in any industry — whether it's in an office cubicle or on a construction site. In the majority of cases, workplace accidents are the result of careless mistakes, inattentiveness, fatigue or forgetfulness. Here are some examples:
- Not securing machinery and equipment. Worker A forgets to properly turn off and secure a machine at the end of a work shift. Worker B cleaning the same machine accidentally activates it and ends up seriously injured. Accidents involving heavy equipment and machinery often result in amputations, crushed limbs, electrocutions, burns, abrasions and lacerations.
- Leaving debris and hazardous items in walking areas. Worker A leaves loose wires, debris and other unsecured items in a walking area shared by other workers. Worker B trips and falls while carrying a heavy item and suffers a head injury, knee injury or bone fracture.
You'll notice that in both cases, the negligence of worker A caused worker B's injury. But this type of negligence is irrelevant in workers' compensation cases. In Pennsylvania, workers' comp is a no-fault system designed to compensate injured workers for their medical expenses and wage loss while they're unable to work. Regardless of who was at fault for your workplace injury, you can still be eligible for workers' comp benefits. That's even if your own error led to your injury. However, your claim may be denied if you acted recklessly and were injured as a result, or you were intoxicated at work and that contributed to your work injury.
When does negligence matter?
The only time negligence matters after a workplace accident is if your injury was caused by a third party. That means you must prove that the negligence of someone other than your employer or a fellow employee caused your injury. Some examples of third-parties include:
- The driver of a motor vehicle if you were hit while within the scope of your employment.
- An equipment manufacturer if you were injured due to a mechanical defect.
- A contractor or employee from another company who is working on the same site as you.
- A property owner if you were injured due to a hazard that should have been addressed or known about.
Workers' comp benefits pay for medical expenses and wage reimbursement for injured workers. Injured workers can't pursue additional damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, or mental and emotional trauma. These types of damages can be pursued through a third-party workplace accident claim, however.
How to get started on your workers' comp claim
If you were hurt on the job, there are key actions you must take before you can obtain benefits. Here's what you need to do:
- Report the incident to your employer. The sooner you do this the better. Your employer can fill out an incident report and document the accident that led to your workplace injury. It also helps to provide a written statement to your employer regarding your workplace accident, so the incident is documented.
- Seek medical care. You can't get workers' comp benefits unless you first get treated by a doctor. Never downplay any injury as something you can just "walk off." In many cases, work-related injuries get worse without treatment and rest. If you were seriously hurt at work or are noticing any unusual aches and pains, get to a doctor as soon as possible.
- File your workers' comp claim. Reporting your incident to your employer and seeing a doctor may serve as the backbone to your workers' comp claim, but you still have to file a claim. This can be a complex and confusing process, especially if it's your first time filing. You should always consult with an experienced workers' comp lawyer when filing a claim. Your lawyer can sit down with you and ensure that all information on your application is entered correctly. Any errors that occur when filing can result in your benefits being delayed or denied.
Get a workers’ comp lawyer based in Philadelphia, PA
The Law Offices Of Richard A. Jaffe, LLC knows that no two workplace injury cases are alike. If you were hurt on the job, you may have questions that need answers. We'd be glad to sit down with you, review the details surrounding your workplace accident, and explore your legal options. Our Philadelphia law firm offers free virtual case consultations via telephone or videoconferencing. We also don't charge any money for our legal services unless your case is resolved and you're fully compensated. Contact us online or call us to get started.