Can I Sue My Employer for Negligence in Harrisburg, PA?

Workers’ compensation entitles most employees to benefits if they are injured at work. In exchange, employees give up the right to sue their employer for negligence.

However, you may have the right to sue the negligent business or employer under certain circumstances. This type of lawsuit is distinct from a workers’ compensation claim.

Below, we will detail the differences between a workers’ compensation claim and a negligence lawsuit. We will also discuss how a skilled legal professional can help you if you have sustained an on-the-job injury.

Differences Between Workers’ Compensation and Negligence Lawsuits

Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits to injured employees. If you have been injured on the job, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. 

To recover workers’ compensation benefits, you must only show that your injury occurred while you were on the job. You may be required to prove you weren’t intoxicated at the time of your injury.

A workers’ compensation claim only provides compensation for your economic damages after the accident. These damages represent your financial losses related to your injury.

These may include:

  • Current medical costs and expenses
  • Private property damage
  • Lost wages and income

You cannot recover compensation for non-economic damages through workers’ comp. “Non-economic” damages include intangible losses like pain and suffering, mental trauma, and more.

It is important to understand the implications of accepting workers’ compensation payments. If you accept workers’ compensation benefits, your employer is protected from any other lawsuit related to your injury. 

To be sure, state and local laws encourage employees to seek financial compensation through workers’ compensation insurance. However, you can seek compensation through other methods in some cases. Speaking with a skilled injury attorney will help you to understand all of your legal rights and options after a workplace accident.

In the following cases, employees can sue rather than pursuing a workers’ compensation claim:

Uninsured Businesses

Most businesses are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you can pursue a lawsuit to recover your economic and non-economic damages after an on-the-job accident. 

You Do Not Qualify for Employee Protections

Some businesses offset their costs by labeling their workers as something other than “employees.” For instance, some workers are categorized as “independent contractors” or work on a commission-only basis.

Workers in these positions include:

  • Salespeople
  • Some agricultural laborers
  • Real estate brokers
  • And more

If you do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you can sue your employer if you have been hurt while working. Speak with a qualified injury lawyer to explore your options for filing a negligence lawsuit.

Intentional Harm

Cases involving intentional harm can be resolved through a negligence lawsuit. Workers’ compensation benefits are only intended to cover accidents at work. 

If your employer intentionally harmed you, you can pursue a negligence lawsuit against them.

One example of intentional harm would be an argument that escalates into a physical exchange. When someone has injured you intentionally, you have the legal right to sue them for damages.

Suing Third-Parties

You might not be able to sue your employer after a workplace injury. However, if a third party caused your accident, you could initiate a personal injury suit against that party to recover your damages.

The workers’ compensation protects employers and employees, not negligent third parties.

A negligent third party could include:

  • A careless driver that caused your car wreck while at work
  • A contractor or subcontractor
  • A manufacturer of defective work equipment, such as machinery, safety harnesses, and scaffolding
  • And more 

Speaking with a skilled attorney is the most effective way to identify your avenues for compensation after a work accident.