Your immediate reaction after a work incident, especially if it was somehow due to your employer’s negligence, is to file a lawsuit. Before you start the paperwork, you should take a step back because the chances are you cannot sue your employer.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry explains the workers’ compensation system works to stop such lawsuits.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. What this means is you will get your benefits without having to prove your employer was responsible. This is one of the benefits you get in trade for not filing a lawsuit.
If you were to go to court, you would have to show your employer was responsible and you were not. That could be tricky. Under workers’ compensation, even if you hold some liability, you still get benefits in most cases because the insurer will not look at those details.
In Pennsylvania, all employers who have at least one employee must carry workers’ compensation. So, you should have coverage no matter where you work.
If your employer fails to carry the required insurance, then you may have the right to sue. Also, if a third party, such as the manufacturer of a piece of equipment, holds some liability for your injuries, then you can take that company to court.
In most cases, though, you cannot sue your employer if you suffer a work injury due to the protections of the workers’ compensation system. However, in trade, you get guaranteed benefits for medical costs and may also qualify for additional lost wage benefits and other assistance under the program.