Occupational Disease: Can you sue your employer for negligence?

Occupational Disease

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act is commonly understood to provide injured workers the right to prompt compensation in exchange for giving up the right to sue their employers for negligence.   In a recent decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court opened the door to negligence claims against employers, in the case of some occupational illnesses.

The Workers’ Compensation Act provides coverage for work-related illnesses that cause disability or death.  The Act states that you must file claims for these illnesses within 300 weeks of the last time you were exposed to the hazardous condition that caused the illness.

Some occupational illnesses, many cancers for example, do not develop for years and even decades after a workers’ employment.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that since the employee (or his dependents) cannot receive the benefits provided by the Workers’ Compensation Act, the employer is not subject to the protection against litigation provided by the Act.

If you, a friend, or loved one is suffering from or has died from an occupational illness, please call us at 215.561.1000. We’re here to help.