Slip and Fall at Work
Will you be able to collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
People often slip and fall injuring themselves — while walking down a sidewalk, shopping in a store — and sue if there was a defect in the sidewalk or debris on the floor which caused them to slip. 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? Will you be entitled to money? We’re here to tell you.
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 doesn’t matter if you stumbled over your own feet when you fell (unless you were drunk!). 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. 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.
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 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.
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 — 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 Workers’ Compensation law firm, Pearson Koutcher Law, for a free comprehensive consultation with one of our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers.