When a person suffers an injury at work, he or she may wonder whether to file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim. Remember, there are substantial differences between these two options and filing a personal injury claim may not always be an available alternative depending on the circumstances of your case.
Several main differences between workers’ comp claims and personal injury claims include:
- Determining fault – In order to file a personal injury lawsuit, someone needs to be at fault or liable for the victim’s injury. In most cases, the victim must establish that the defendant was negligent. On the other hand, workers’ compensation can often cover specific injuries even the employer or supervisor is not at fault.
- Ability to sue – You cannot file a lawsuit against an employer if they have filed for or are currently receiving workers’ comp benefits for that specific injury.
- Damages – In a personal injury case, you are entitled to all forms of damages—including pain and suffering, as well as emotional distress—which you have suffered. In a workers’ comp claim, the value of benefits is typically based on a percentage of the injured worker’s average salary.
- Financial responsibility – In a workers’ comp claim, the employer’s insurance company provides benefits to injured workers. In a personal injury claim, the defendant may be covered by an auto insurance policy, business insurance policy, and other insurance policy—with the possibility of the defendant personally paying for the damages.
To learn about your rights and responsibilities under these certain circumstances, it is best to speak with a lawyer. An attorney can explain whether the worker is limited to workers’ comp benefits or whether a third-party or personal injury lawsuit is possible.