The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides wage loss and medical benefits. The purpose of the Act is to provide injured workers with an income stream and medical benefits until their earning power is restored.
Pennsylvania Work Comp benefits are payable without regard to fault. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you were injured as a result of your fault (intentional injuries aren’t covered of course), the employer’s fault, or no one’s fault. Benefits are payable if you were 1) employed, 2) suffered an injury or disease, 3) in the course and scope of employment.
If you have a third party case- that is, a case against an entity other than your employer for negligence, then pain and suffering damages may be relevant. For example, if you were working and in a car accident, you would have a Pennsylvania Work Comp case against your employer, and a 3rd party personal injury case against the driver who caused the accident- assuming they were negligent and that the negligence caused the injuries. In these situations, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation carrier has the right to subrogation- which means reimbursement- from the proceeds of the 3rd party case, using a specific formula.
So, if there are no pain and suffering damages in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation cases, why do I hear about lump sum settlements? You hear about lump sum settlements because the settlements are for past and future loss of earning power, and medical benefits. In other words, the insurer wants to buy the claims to end their exposure- and the parties negotiate a lump sum to end the case. Not every case results in a lump sum settlement. An example of this would be if a Work Comp Judge found an injured worker to be fully recovered, or if an injured worker return to work and wasn’t interested in settling out the medical benefits.
It is very important to recognize that every case is different. I always remind clients of this because many people call me and tell me their co-worker got X amount of money. There are probably 100 or more important distinguishing factors in any two cases. Comparing your situation to someone else’s is not a wise way to spend your time. I am available 7 days a week to give you a free consult.
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The Cardamone Law Firm, LLC