When a person is injured on the job, they can either file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. While both of these claims are for compensation for injuries, they are not the same.
The following are the differences between personal injury and workers’ comp claims:
- Fault – The main difference between a workers’ compensation claim and personal injury claim is how fault affects the claim. In a personal injury claim, the victim must establish that the defendant was negligent. On the other hand, you do not need to establish fault in a workers’ compensation claim.
- Damages – When determining workers’ compensation, the value of benefits is often based on a percentage of the injured worker’s average salary. In addition to wage replacement benefits, injured workers are typically entitled to compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation services, and vocational training. In a personal injury case, the victim’s damages depend on the harm that he or she suffered. Damages may include compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, emotional distress, as well as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages are not available in workers’ compensation cases.
- Ability to sue – Workers’ compensation is designed to provide benefits to injured workers no matter who is at fault for the accident. In exchange for being covered by this type of insurance, injured workers typically give up their right to sue his or her employer. However, the injured worker may be able to sue third parties that may share a responsibility for the accident.
Those who sustain a workplace injury may wish to discuss their case with an attorney to understand their rights and responsibilities under the particular circumstances. A lawyer can explain whether the worker is limited to workers’ compensation benefits or whether a third-party claim or personal injury claim is possible.