Can I sue my Employer for anything other than workers’ compensation benefits for a work injury?
No, workers’ compensation benefits are your exclusive remedy against your Employer, as well as any co-employee, for damages from a work injury, even if the Employer or co-employee were negligent in causing the injury. An exception to this rule is if your Employer didn’t have workers’ compensation insurance at the time of your work injury. If the Employer wasn’t insured, an injured worker has the option of suing the Employer for negligence in causing the work injury or, filing a claim under the Pa WC Act. If the injured worker chooses to sue the Employer in a negligence action, he must prove that the Employer was at fault in bringing about the work accident, as opposed to pursuing a claim under the Act which doesn’t require proof of fault before the Employer can be held liable. The Pa WC Act is a no-fault statute meaning that you only have to prove that you were injured at work or, within the course and scope of your employment and, that the injury disables you from work in order to be eligible for compensation under the Act. Pursuing a compensation claim under the Act against an uninsured Employer was made a lot easier by the creation of the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund which is applicable to injuries occurring after January 8, 2007. Without getting into specifics, the Fund steps in the shoes of the uninsured Employer and pays any wage loss and medical benefits awarded. The Fund can then file a civil action against the Employer to try and get reimbursed for what the Fund paid the injured worker. Pain and suffering damages are recoverable in a negligence action against the Employer but not in a claim under the Act. This usually means a larger award in a negligence case but again an injured worker’s ability to file a civil action against an Employer for a work injury is extremely limited.