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Should I file a workers' compensation claim or take other action?

Pennsylvania residents who have suffered work-related injuries have every right to question their options for seeking compensation. The vast majority of employers are required to provide workers' compensation coverage, and the benefits can cover quite a bit, but is it only way one can recover any damages sustained? It is the best option in many cases, but for a few filing intentional torts may be better.

Workers' compensation benefits serve two real purposes. They protect employers from lawsuits that could damage their companies, and they provide employees with care and financial support if work-related accidents or illnesses occur. This insurance can cover full medical costs, partial pay and, if necessary, offer disability benefits. Every case is unique and how much coverage one receives will depend on the fine details of his or her case.

If an employee files for and accepts work comp benefits, workers' compensation exclusivity laws prevents him or her from taking civil actions against his or her employer. As coverage can be limited, is taking the benefit always the best choice? What if an employer's negligence was the cause of injury or illness? If this is the case, one may be able to achieve more compensation through filing a civil claim.

To file an intentional tort, the employee will have the burden of proving that his or her employer was aware that a hazard that could cause injury or death existed and that no actions were taken to address it. This is known as a willful violation. The purpose of filing a civil claim would be to seek compensation and hold an employer accountable for any negligence; whereas, workers' compensation claims are filed to simply access care and monetary assistance following an injury or illness.

As these two actions serve very different purposes, knowing which is right for one's case can be challenging. At the end of the day, achieving fair and full compensation is the ultimate goal. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can assist Pennsylvania residents who have suffered on-the-job injuries or illnesses in pursing actions that are best suited for their individual circumstances.

Source: FindLaw, "Workers' Compensation: Can I Sue My Employer Instead?", Accessed on May 2, 2017

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