People often slip and fall, injuring themselves. This can happen while walking down a sidewalk, shopping in a store, or out to eat at a restaurant. If there was a defect in the sidewalk or debris on the floor which caused them to slip, they may take legal action and sue. But what if you slip and fall in the warehouse where you work, or in the parking lot walking from your car into the building? (Click here for a list of workers we represent who may be injured in a slip and fall) Will you be entitled to money in Pennsylvania? We’re here to tell you. Pearson Koutcher Law has extensive experience litigating these matters, and when you tell us your story, we will give you a realistic evaluation on everything you are entitled to receive. Let’s explore some scenarios that may match the fact pattern of your case.
Let’s say you’re working on a machine at work and slip when you’re walking across the warehouse to pick up a tool. You land hard on your back, and your injury is so severe, you’re unable to do your job.
First, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because your injury occurred while you were at work. It does not matter if you stumbled over your own feet when you fell (unless you were drunk or high!). You don’t have to prove that your accident was anybody’s fault only that it happened while you were at work, while you were in the course of your employment. In Pennsylvania, you will then be entitled to money for your lost wages and payment of your medical bills.
Now let’s change the facts. Suppose that you slip and fall in the parking lot while walking from your employer’s parking lot into the building. Are you entitled to workers’ comp benefits? It depends. Pennsylvania workers’ comp. law is not as favorable to an injured worker when a fall happens outside the building as opposed to inside. The injured worker must prove that the injury happened as a result of a condition of the premises. In other words, the person must establish that something in or on the parking lot — a pothole, snow and ice — caused the fall. Therefore, if you slipped because you were texting on your cell phone and not paying attention to where you were walking, your employer would not be required to pay you workers’ comp. benefits, but if you fall as a result of something out of your control, or something your employer should have maintained, you may be entitled to collect benefits.
What about a separate lawsuit for “pain and suffering”? The only way you could do that is if a third party — a person or company other than your employer —was negligent, which caused your fall. So if your employer hired a snow removal company to plow the parking lot after a big snowfall and they did an inadequate job, leaving piles of snow and ice in the parking lot, and you slipped on one of those piles, you would have a basis to sue that company and pursue a workers’ comp. claim at the same time. This is called a third-party claim. Third-party claims occur quite frequently and you may allow you to seek compensation against the people or company whose negligence caused your accident. It is important to make sure you are seeking compensation from the people who caused your accident.
But if you slipped on grease in the warehouse, and it was your employer’s responsibility to clean the floor, you could not file a separate lawsuit because you cannot collect workers’ comp benefits and sue your employer for negligence. That’s the compromise in workers’ comp law as established under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act— you don’t have to show that your injuries were caused by somebody else, but you cannot sue your employer and obtain money for pain and suffering.
So please, if you slip and fall at your workplace or on your way into work, contact top PA workers’ compensation law firm, Pearson Koutcher Law, for a free comprehensive consultation with one of our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers. Workers comp is all we do. We care about our clients and want to hear your story!