A Pennsylvania employee recently settled her workers’ compensation claim with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). The employee was working as a coach cleaner and attempting to board a car when she fell into an open trap stairway and sustained injuries, for which she filed suit under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). The plaintiff was awarded several forms of benefits, including compensation for aggravation of her pre-existing injuries and loss of her earning capacity and potential.
Compensation for Work-Related Injuries in Pennsylvania
Employees who work for private employers in Pennsylvania are covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, which entitles them to benefits regardless of whether their employer was at fault for their injuries. Federal employees, however, are not covered by state workers’ compensation laws, but rather by industry-specific federal regulations such as FELA. Under FELA, railroad workers must prove that their employer (the railroad company) somehow negligently contributed to their injuries in order to recover compensation.
Generally, workers who are injured on the job are entitled to payments for economic losses related to their injuries such as medical expenses, disability, and death benefits. However, if a third party – someone other than their employer – caused their injuries, workers may be able to recover additional damages from that party, provided they can prove that the third-party’s negligence caused or contributed to their injuries.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Third-Party Negligence Claims
Injured workers are not required to prove that their employer was negligent in order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, whereas plaintiffs in third-party personal injury suits must prove that a third-party other than their employer was responsible for their injuries. Workers’ compensation and third-party claims also differ in terms of the available forms of compensation; third-party claims allow injured workers to recover for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, which are not available under workers’ compensation.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Calculated?
Personal injury settlements are calculated differently depending on state law. Some states follow the contributory negligence standard, which states that plaintiffs who are at all to blame – even one percent – for their injures may not recover damages in third-party claims. This rule is the minority, however; most states follow either the pure comparative negligence or the modified comparative negligence standard.
Calculating Third-Party Damages in Pennsylvania
Both pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence reduces a workers’ settlement amounts by their percentage of fault. However, the modified comparative standard (which applies in Pennsylvania) only allows plaintiffs to recover if they are less at fault than the defendant.
Therefore, if a plaintiff’s percentage of fault is more than 51 percent, he is barred from recovery. However, if a plaintiff is determined to less than 51 percent responsible for his injuries, he may recover an amount of damages that is reduced in accordance with his percentage of fault. Workers who believe they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or third-party damages should speak with a qualified local attorney who can help secure the maximum compensation in their case.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Obtain Workers’ Comp Benefits and Third-Party Damages for Their Injuries
If you were injured at work, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys handle workers’ compensation, third-party negligence, and FELA claims in Philadelphia and throughout the state. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
Located in Philadelphia, Bensalem, Lansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.