Pain and Suffering?
Everybody’s ears perk up when they hear that a person has been awarded millions of dollars as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident or a slip-and-fall. One thing is almost certain: the person did not receive that staggering sum of money in a workers’ compensation claim.
When somebody gets hurt at work, they are primarily entitled to only two types of benefits: wage loss and medical. (Money can also be awarded to a person who loses the use of a body part for all practical intents and purposes.) So if you are injured at work and cannot perform your position, you are entitled to money based on the amount of money you earned at your job (usually 2/3 of your wages, but sometimes as high as 90%; the money is non-taxable); and payment for medical treatment, which is reasonable, necessary, and related to your work injury. But unfortunately, harsh as it may sound, you are not entitled to additional money for “pain and suffering” in a workers’ compensation claim, regardless of how much you have suffered in your day-to-day life and how much pain you have had to endure because of your injury.
The rationale of workers’ compensation law in Pennsylvania is that if you sustain injuries at work, you don’t have to prove that it was anybody’s fault; you only have to show that the injury occurred in the course of your employment. So if you hurt your back at work lifting a crate or bending over to clean a sink, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even though your injury was not the fault of somebody else; in legal terms, the injury was not caused by somebody’s negligence. The tradeoff – and it’s a big one — is that you may not recover any money for pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering comes into play when you can prove that your injuries occurred due to somebody’s negligence – for example, you are rear-ended by a truck or slip and fall on an icy parking lot which was not properly salted. These cases can go to a jury who have the discretion to award an amount of money that will compensate you for past and future pain and suffering.
So is it impossible for you to receive money for pain and suffering if your accident occurred at work? No – under certain circumstances, you can. If you sustain an injury in the course of your employment which is caused by the negligence of a third party (not your employer), you have the basis for a workers’ compensation claim and a separate lawsuit against the third party which caused your accident. So if the rear-end accident happened when you were on your way to a customer’s house to repair their furnace, you may file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits with your employer, and also pursue a lawsuit against the driver which negligently caused your injuries. Likewise, if that icy parking lot you slipped on was at the dealership where you sell cars, you may seek workers’ compensation benefits from the dealership for which you work, and at the same time file a lawsuit against the company that was responsible for ensuring that the parking lot was free of ice. Under both of these scenarios, you will have the right to recover money for your pain and suffering in the lawsuits.
Call Pearson Koutcher Law to Discuss Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Let us put our decades of experience to work for you, helping you navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation laws.
Pearson Koutcher Law
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Bethlehem Office serving the Lehigh Valley
528 Maple Street,
Bethlehem, PA 18018