Q: I work in an office in Lancaster County. Our building is being enlarged by adding an additional wing, and that means there are lots of construction workers getting in the way of people just trying to do their jobs. About ten days ago, a heating and air co
This is an interesting tangle. We have six different answers.
First answer. In Pennsylvania, you are covered under workers’ compensation for injuries that occur at work during the performance of your duties. At first glance, then, it would seem that workers’ comp sets the rules for payment of your medical bills. As you probably already know, workers’ compensation gives injured employees money to pay for their health care expenses related to an on-the-job injury, and also provides a stipend to pay part of your wages for the time you miss from work.
The state requires almost all private employers and their labor force to participate in workers’ compensation. The money that is paid in benefits comes from your employer—sometimes directly, but far more often through an insurance company your boss pays. In exchange for the security of this payment system, you are not allowed to sue your employer or coworkers for injuries caused by their negligence.
So the first answer is that your company or its insurance plan pays your bills as a standard workers’ compensation claim.
Second answer. At second glance, we realize that it’s not obvious your injury falls under workers’ compensation rules. The crucial question is whether you were actually injured at work in the performance of your duties. You were in your car in the parking lot when the accident happened. Was this before the start of your workday, or after you clocked out for the afternoon? Were you on your lunch break? Was traveling in your personal vehicle a regular part of your job?
If it turns out that the accident happened on your personal time, then it may not be covered by workers’ compensation rules—even though you were hurt on company property. If that’s the case, you may be able to file a Pennsylvania personal injury lawsuit against your company, if the safety measures in the parking lot (such as directional and warning signs) were inadequate. Because this accident is not covered by workers’ compensation, the usual ban on suing your employer does not apply.
Third answer. If the heating and cooling installer who collided with you did not exercise ordinary, reasonable care when driving in the parking lot, you may have a personal injury claim against him. This means you need an investigation into the truck driver’s role in the accident. Was he appropriately trained to drive the truck? Was he intoxicated? Did talking on his cell phone distract him at the time of the crash?
Fourth answer. If the installer was driving his truck as part of his performance of assigned job duties, then you also may have a legal claim against his company for its failure to hire a responsible and trained driver.
Fifth answer. If the truck slammed into your car because its brakes failed or because of sudden acceleration, you may also have a legal claim against the person or business responsible for selling a defective vehicle, installing a defective part, or incompetently performing maintenance on the truck.
Sixth answer. If nobody did anything wrong—if everyone acted in a reasonable manner but circumstances just ran out of control—and if your injuries are covered under workers’ compensation law, then you will be responsible for your own health care costs. You will either have to pay from your own pocket or else rely on any health insurance coverage you have.
We Warned You it Was a Tangled Question
Who is responsible for your injury is a very difficult question that can’t be answered without a detailed investigation into your case. Our Harrisburg accident attorneys would need to compare your version of events with the statements of the truck driver and of any other witnesses. We would interview managers at both companies and examine employment records, with the intention of determining whether Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law applies to this case.
Call us today at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review. Let us explore whether we can get you the justice and financial settlement that you need for your injuries.