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Workers’ Comp vs Personal Injury: What’s the Difference?

We here at The Law Office of Luis Cartaya, PA  understand how difficult it can be to tell the difference between a personal injury lawsuit and a worker’s compensation claim. Injuries can happen during work hours but filing them as a personal injury vs. a worker’s comp claim depends on different factors. For example, a slip and fall at work can either be a personal injury suit or a worker’s comp claim depending on the situation. Worker’s comp usually covers very specific injuries or conditions that are clearly listed by law or under contract. The main difference between the two usually has to do with liability.

Main differences between personal injury lawsuits and worker’s compensation claims include:

  • Determining Fault: Someone needs to be liable or at fault to file a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, this will involve some form of negligence. On the other hand, workers compensation can often cover specific injuries even if the employer or a supervisor were not at fault.
  • Damages: In a personal injury case, you are entitled to all forms of damages that you have experienced, including pain and suffering if it can be proven. For a worker’s compensation claim, it does not include pain and suffering. Additionally, worker’s comp usually involves weekly or periodic payments, while injury damages can sometimes be collected in lump sums.
  • Right to Sue: Technically, you cannot file a lawsuit against an employer once you have filed for workers compensation. In most cases a worker forfeits their right to sue an employer if they have filed for or are currently collecting workers compensation for that injury.

What Are the Damages I Can Recover?

The difference in damages between a personal injury lawsuit and a workers’ compensation claim is that an employee is not entitled to benefits for pain and suffering in a workers’ compensation claim. In a personal injury lawsuit, an employee is entitled to recover all the damages that they suffered. This includes lost wages and earnings, lost future wages and earnings, medical bills, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. In addition, workers’ compensation benefits are usually given to the employee in a timely manner, usually within days. In a personal injury case, an employee might not receive compensation for their injuries for months or sometimes years because personal injury cases typically take much longer to finalize since it goes through the court and fault must be proven.

Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Typically, an employee cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer or another employee if they have already filed a workers’ compensation claim. In some workers’ compensation claims, there may be a third party involved in the accident or injury. These are called combination cases. If the accident or injury was the result of a 3rd party, then the employee may file a separate personal injury lawsuit against the 3rd party who was liable for the employee’s injury.

Injury and workers compensation laws are often difficult to understand. You may need to hire a qualified injury lawyer if you need help with a legal claim. One of our attorneys at The Law Office of Luis Cartaya, PA  can inform you of the different options available to you with regards to an injury that occurred in a work setting. Contact us today to discuss your options.

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