Many times as lawyers we are asked in workers’ compensation, what’s my case worth? And many times we respond, lightly joking, as much as we can get. But in all seriousness that’s not far from the truth.
Generally, what an injured worker collects in workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania for a work injury is indemnity or wage loss benefits ( a percentage of your Average Weekly Wage-a legal term based on a calculation under the law), and payment of medical expenses. There is also survivors benefits due to a death from a work injury for widows and children, and specific loss benefits for an amputation of a body part or loss of use for all practical intents and purposes of that specific body part, and money for scarring on the head face or neck.
Workers’ Compensation is different than personal injury, or negligence cases in one big area-pain and suffering. There is no money paid, to be paid, or for one to get for pain and suffering if their injury is solely their fault or their companies fault. In other words if your employer is negligent and you get injured in Pennsylvania, because of the exclusivity of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, you cannot collect for pain and suffering. Yes, there are many instances where someone can get hurt at work due to the negligence of someone other than their employer and receive workers’ compensation and separately pain and suffering from the other party, or third party, responsible. And in those separate instances where someone can collect both there is subrogation where the Workers’ Compensation Insurance company is entitled to reimbursement of a portion of your third party settlement proceeds-the principle being that one cannot collect twice for the same injury, generally under the law.
So before we or anyone can determine and begin to calculate what one’s case is worth we need to first start looking at what you potentially are entitled to under the law, i.e. what you may get if you win, or are getting benefits what you may get into the future. And if we are talking about what might one get as far as a settlement we then may also look at what you may get if you lose and that then would just be the starting point.