Pennsylvania workers who are injured on the job due to negligence may wonder if they can file suit while being covered under workers’ compensation. The answer depends on whether the injury was caused by employer or third-party negligence.

One case that illustrates this happened in Chester, Pennsylvania, when an employee of the Chester Water Authority parked his work truck away from the road in a construction area. A vehicle rear-ended his truck, resulting in a multi-vehicle accident that sent the man, who was in front of it, airborne. Due to the accident, he suffered multiple injuries including a ligament tear in his right knee and contusions as well as depression, post-traumatic stress, emotional issues and anxiety.

According to the man’s lawsuit, filed in Pennsylvania’s U.S. District Court, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration inspected the site after the accident and said the third-party contractor hired by the CWA in 2012 to do work on their system failed to erect signs at a distance of two feet from the road warning motorists that work was being done. Because of this, the suit says, the accident happened.

In his claim against the contractor, the CWA worker says he has been unable to work. He also contends that he has been paying for medical care for injuries suffered in the crash.

Generally, if an employee is injured at work and applies for workers’ compensation, they are not able to sue their employer for their injury and its consequences. However, if the worker’s injury was precipitated by a third party, as in this case, a personal injury case against them may be filed. Consulting with an attorney about a similar situation may be beneficial for the worker. The attorney may provide guidance into whether a lawsuit is possible in their case.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, “Injured municipal worker blames contractor’s lack of warning signs for car accident“, Jim Boyle, August 18, 2014