If you’re one of these employees, you might be wondering what your next step should be. Do you need to file a personal injury claim or a workers’ comp lawsuit?
It depends on your circumstances.
Not sure where to start?
Keep reading below to learn the difference between personal injury and workers’ compensation and which one you need.
Personal Injury vs. Workers’ Compensation
Personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims are similar, but there are several important differences between them. But before we can look at how they’re different, you have to understand what it is each one covers.
Here’s a closer look at personal injury vs workers’ compensation.
You can file a personal injury lawsuit for a number of circumstances, even if it has nothing to do with work. For example, if you’re involved in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you can file a personal injury claim against them.
But you must be able to prove that that person was at fault. Just because you accidentally hurt yourself on someone else’s property doesn’t mean the property owner caused the injury.
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Unlike personal injury, workers’ compensation is a type of mandated insurance program all employers must have. If, as an employee, you hurt yourself on the job, this insurance will pay for your medical expenses and missed work.
In this case, it doesn’t matter who caused the injury.
Whether you hurt yourself by making a simple mistake or it was the fault of your employer, you’ll get paid for the damages.
Okay, So… What’s the Difference?
There are three main differences between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim. We’ve put together a quick list of those differences below.
1. Fault vs. No-Fault
The biggest difference between a personal injury case and a workers’ compensation case is the question of fault or no fault. We’ve touched on this briefly above, but let’s look at what that means in closer detail.
In order to file a personal injury claim, you must be able to prove the person you’re suing is at fault.
Let’s go back to the car accident example. Imagine you sustained an injury from a car accident. However, this car accident only happened because the other driver was on their phone while behind the wheel. It was their distracted driving that led to the accident.
Since you wouldn’t have been injured if the other driver had been following the law, it’s their fault you got hurt. Because of this, you can file a personal injury claim against them.
But you don’t need to prove fault for a workers’ compensation claim.
Even if you caused the injury, it wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t at work. Workers’ compensation is designed to protect employees.
One of the other prominent differences between personal injury and workers’ compensation is the types of damages you can recover.
When you file a workers’ compensation lawsuit, you can only receive the following:
- Weekly compensation (based on earning history)
- Medical bills
- Vocational rehabilitation (to help you return to work or retrain for a new career)
- Permanent impairment benefits
Does that sound like a lot? You might not think so when you see what types of damages you can receive with a personal injury claim.
Here are a few examples of the compensation you can get from a personal injury case:
- Lost earnings
- Medical bills
- Lost earning capacity
- Future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent Impairment benefits
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- And more
Personal injury lawsuits allow you to recover any and all damages you have suffered because of your injury. But while this type of claim might have a better payout in the end, it’s also harder to prove fault and win your case.
3. To Sue or Not to Sue
Workers’ compensation laws ensure you receive some amount of weekly benefits and get your medical expenses paid for. Because of this, you don’t have the right to sue your employer or employees if you’re covered under workers’ compensation.
Can You File a Personal Injury Claim and a Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit at the Same Time?
In short, no.
You can’t file for personal injury if you’re covered under workers’ compensation.
If you’re covered under workers’ compensation, you’ve lost your right to sue your employer or your other employees. And you can’t file a personal injury claim without suing someone.
However, there are a handful of rare cases in which you can sue for a work-related injury.
When to File a Personal Injury Claim for a Work-Related Injury
If one of these issues caused your injury, you might be able to file a personal injury claim after all.
But again, these circumstances are rare. You’ll be covered under workers’ compensation almost 100% of the time.
However, there might be an exception in the following instances:
- A defective product caused the injury (you can sue the manufacturer of the product)
- An illegal or toxic substance caused the injury
- Your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance
- The injury was caused by employer conduct that was intentional and likely to result in serious injury
If your injury happened as a result of one of these circumstances, you might want to look into filing a personal injury claim. Otherwise, your injury should be covered under workers’ compensation.
Understanding the Difference a Between Personal Injury Case and a Workers’ Comp Lawsuit
While personal injury and workers’ comp lawsuits are similar, they cover different types of injuries in different circumstances. You can also receive more compensation from a personal injury claim, but it takes more time and effort to win your case.
If you get hurt at work, you don’t have to worry about filing a personal injury claim. You’ll be covered under your employer’s workers compensation insurance.
Were you involved in a different type of accident?
Make sure you click here to learn about common tort law cases you should know about.