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January 16th, 2014

Work Accident Law in Pennsylvania – Can You Sue Your Employer or a Co-Worker?

One of the first questions an injured worker has is whether they can sue their employer or a co-worker for a work related accident. In most cases in Pennsylvania, the answer is no, with some limited exceptions. Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, employers are required to provide injured workers with medical treatment and wage loss caused by disability. In return, workers are generally barred from suing their employers and co-workers for work related accidents. However, there are situations when an employee can sue their employer and/or a co-worker.

Can You Sue Your Employer or a Co-Worker in PA?

Willful, Intentional Conduct

If an employer engages in willful, intentional conduct, the injured worker may be able to take the employer to court. It is important to note, however, that the conduct must be extreme, bordering on criminal. In a nutshell, that is the standard applied to determine when conduct is willful and intentional. In PA court cases involving lawsuits against employers alleging willful, intentional conduct, fraudulent conduct is usually the type of conduct necessary, such as falsifying records. For example, an employer who doctors blood test records to hide harm caused by exposure to chemicals at work may be liable for an injured worker’s subsequent injury.

Workplace Assault

An assault which occurs at work may be deemed to have occurred outside the course of employment. If outside the course of employment, the employer does not pay workers’ compensation benefits, and the injured worker may be able to bring a lawsuit against the employer or a co-worker. However, the facts and circumstances necessary to support such a case must show that the assault occurred due to reasons personal to the injured worker. An argument about a work matter which comes to blows will probably not be considered personal to the employee. Therefore, the assaulting co-worker and/or the employer would not be able to be sued, and instead, a workers’ compensation claim would be the injured worker’s exclusive remedy, or the only type of legal action available.

Employer Failed to Get Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If an employer does not obtain workers’ compensation insurance, the injured worker retains the right to sue the employer directly for a work accident. Although rare, employers can and do fail to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. In some instances, an employer may not properly renew a workers’ compensation insurance policy for a given period, which results in denial of the injured worker’s claim. He or she would then be able to take their employer to court to recover for their injuries.


Pennsylvania and New Jersey Work Accident Lawyers

The work accident lawyers at Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan are passionate about workers’ rights and accident safety. Jeff’s law firm proudly represents workers, such as:

  • carpenters,
  • plumbers,
  • electricians,
  • steel workers,
  • iron workers, and
  • laborers.

If you or a loved one was seriously hurt or killed in a work accident, contact us for a free, confidential consultation. Our lawyers accept cases in other states such as New York or Delaware on a case by case basis and welcome calls from local counsel. (866) 641-0806/Click To Call

Disclaimer: The lawyers at Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan provide legal advice to individuals after accepting their case. No attorney-client relationship is created by this website. Nothing on this site is intended to provide legal advice. Because every case is unique, discussion of prior outcomes and settlements in past cases is no guarantee of a similar outcome in current or future cases.