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Workers' Compensation Versus Personal Injury Cases

Personal Injury Law Book
Workers' compensation and personal injury cases are two completely different things. Many people are surprised to find they can't recover the same amounts with a workers' compensation claim as they would with a personal injury case. There's a reason why workers' compensation doesn't work like personal injury. This guide explains the differences between the two.

Workers' Compensation Insurance Protects Employers and Employees

Injuries occur at work sites all the time. No employer would have the time or funds to go through litigation for every single injury that occurs - it would quickly put them out of business. Workers' compensation exists as a compromise. Workers' compensation helps injured workers cover lost wages and pay for needed treatment.

You don't sue for your workers' compensation benefits as you would in a personal injury case. You apply for your benefits by filing a claim. Workers' compensation is typically a no-fault arrangement. So even if your injury was your own fault, you can still receive workers' compensation benefits. In exchange, you cannot sue your employer directly.

Through this system, employees and employers alike don't have to deal with going through the court and litigation process. You don't have to spend a lot of time and energy finding evidence to prove your case before you can receive benefits.

Personal Injury Cases Deal With Injuries Caused by Another's Negligence

By contrast, a personal injury case involves negotiations, settlements, and litigation. You must prove your injury came about because of another's negligence. The process is very different from filing a workers' compensation claim, and the outcome doesn't always result in the compensation you may think you deserve. However, you should speak to a legal firm if you suffer an injury due to negligence.

Suing an Employer in a Personal Injury Case

If your employer carries workers' compensation insurance, then you typically cannot sue them. However, a personal injury case is possible against an employer if:
  • Your employer doesn't have workers' compensation insurance
  • Your employer intentionally and maliciously caused your injury
In cases like these, you may also be able to pursue a third-party lawsuit. For example, if your accident involved a product or service from a third party, then you can pursue a lawsuit against that party. You can do so while still filing your workers' compensation claim.

Other Differences Between Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Claims

These two claims have other differences as well. For example, one of the largest differences has to do with how compensation works. Personal injury cases usually end with a single settlement amount. Workers' compensation pays out for as long as you meet the requirements for receiving it.

One of the largest differences between the two is that workers' compensation typically doesn't pay out for pain and suffering. Workers' compensation doesn't involve a lawsuit, which is usually one of the requirements for receiving compensation for pain and suffering. This may be because it's easy to put a dollar amount to lost wages and medical coverage. Pain and suffering isn't so cut-and-dry.

Similarities Between Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Claims

These cases are very different procedures, but they both involve a legal process. You should never tackle a personal injury case without consulting with a personal injury lawyer.

Workers' compensation claims are supposed to happen without too much hassle. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

You can have your claim denied, or find yourself in a situation where you're not receiving the right benefits for your injury. Sometimes, a workers' compensation claim will need to go before a panel. To give your claim the best chance, you should seek the advice of a qualified lawyer.

Lawyers from Hernandez Law Offices can provide the legal expertise you need to respond to your workers' compensation scenario. Call us today to learn more.