Lebanon, PA asked in Workers' Compensation for Pennsylvania

Q: Can I sue my employer for "rigging" a saw machine that broke and caused partial loss of 3 fingers? I received my WC pay.

I know about Third Party Suits but I think the machine manufacturer is no longer in business. The company I worked for rigged the machine to suit its manufacturing needs. I incurred 3 partial amputations on my fingers because the machine was not running properly and broke. In addition to this, I was not trained on this machine. Also, the Insurance company paying my Loss of Pay benefit says they are going to recoup the loss of wages I received by taking it out of my Specific Loss Lump Sum Pay. Can they do that? From what I've researched, they cannot.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Timothy Belt
Timothy Belt
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyer
  • Hazleton, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: First, this is a complicated situation that you really should be handling through a workers' compensation attorney rather than attempting to do it on your own.

In regard to the negligence case, there would not be a claim for product liability if your employer modified the machine, and generally you are confined to workers' compensation for claims against your employer arising out of a

work injury.

As to the specivic loss claim, unless there is a settlement, specific loss is not paid in a lump sum. It is paid in weekly or biweekly installments just like your wage loss check. If they have continued to pay wage loss after the injury became a specific loss, they are potentially entitled to a credit for the weeks after the injury became a specific loss. There are potential ways around that if you can demonstrate your injury was more than just a specific loss, but again you really want a workers' compensation attorney to help you with that.

Glenn Neiman agrees with this answer

Glenn Neiman
Glenn Neiman pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyer
  • Warminster, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: I agree with Mr. Belt all around. First, I would urge you to retain an attorney certified as a specialist in workers' compensation law, whether my firm or another of the fine attorneys on this board. Second, yes, typically, workers' compensation is an "exclusive remedy," meaning you cannot sue your employer in any other area for causing your injury. Though there are narrow exceptions, it does not appear any are present in your case (though another reason to discuss your specific case with an attorney). And, yes, there can be a deduction from a specific loss payment for total disability paid in some circumstances. Again, this would be best handled by getting an attorney. Good luck!

Timothy Belt agrees with this answer

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