Construction worker building a house

Legal Recourse For Injured Construction Workers In Philadelphia

If you are a construction worker injured on the job, you should first seek medical attention since your health should be the priority. Then you will need to notify your employer as soon as possible. Ensure you record medical treatments, expenses, and communications regarding the injury. 

Injured construction workers have several legal avenues for recourse, depending on the circumstances of their injury, the laws of the jurisdiction where the injury occurred, and specific details related to their employment and the construction project.  

Various Legal Options Available For Injured Construction Workers

Philadelphia law allows for multiple legal options for injured construction workers.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is the primary avenue of recourse for injured workers, including those in the construction industry. This form of insurance provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured during employment. In return, employees relinquish the right to sue their employer for negligence.  

Specific steps must be followed when filing a workers’ compensation claim, including documentation requirements and time limits for reporting the injury. If an employee is injured, they have up to 120 days to inform their employer about the injury, and the employer must then file a report to start the claims process​​. The statute of limitations is the length of time an injured worker must formally file a Workers’ Compensation claim. In Pennsylvania, the limitation period is three years from when the accident occurred.

Most workers are eligible for workers’ compensation. Still, there may be exceptions based on state laws, the size of the company, and the type of worker (independent contractors, for example, are often not covered).

Employers are required to report injuries and can choose to either accept or deny claims. If a claim is denied, the injured worker can petition the bureau for a hearing before a workers’ compensation (WC) judge. Moreover, if an employer doesn’t provide workers’ compensation coverage, they can face severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment, besides being liable for the cost of the employee’s medical expenses and lost wages​​​​.

Workers’ compensation benefits can include medical care, rehabilitation expenses, and partial compensation for lost wages. For any disputes or issues with claims, consulting with an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation law may be beneficial to navigate the process and ensure all rights and responsibilities are correctly addressed.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

If the injury was caused by the negligence of a party other than the employer, the worker might have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit. This could be against a third party, like equipment manufacturers, subcontractors, or property owners.

Unlike workers’ compensation, in a personal injury lawsuit, the worker must prove that the other party was negligent. If successful, they may recover damages such as pain and suffering, which are not available under workers’ compensation.

Generally speaking, in Pennsylvania, there is a two (2) year statute of limitations that applies to any civil action in which an individual seeks to recover damages for personal injuries or for the death of an individual caused by another person’s wrongful act or negligence.

Product Liability Claims

If a worker’s injury was caused by defective or dangerous equipment, they might have a claim against the manufacturer or distributor of that equipment. This is known as a product liability claim. Defects can include design defects, manufacturing defects, or a failure to provide adequate warnings. Compensation may include costs for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Violations

If the injury resulted from violating safety standards, there may be grounds for an OSHA complaint. While OSHA does not provide compensation to workers, it can investigate the workplace, issue fines, and require changes to prevent future injuries. Workers can file a complaint if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA standards.

Note that employees are protected from retaliation for reporting safety violations under the whistleblower laws


Considering the complexities involved, injured construction workers should consult with an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation or personal injury. An attorney can help navigate the legal system, advocate on the worker’s behalf, and ensure they receive all the benefits and compensation they are entitled to. If you have been injured in a construction accident throughout the Philadelphia area, including Delaware, Montgomery County, Chester, Lancaster, and Philadelphia Counties, or in New Jersey, contact Cooper Schall and Levy. Our guiding principle is that construction workers have a right to a safe work environment.