Workers Comp vs Personal Injury
If you have been injured on the job, you may be eligible for some form of financial compensation to help cushion the financial blow associated with the injury. You may be struggling under the weight of medical bills and not being able to earn a paycheck.
So long as your injury was work-related, you should be entitled to some form of compensation that can help. Even still, you would want to retain a personal injury lawyer to see if you may be able to get more compensation in a lawsuit. Contact the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for a free evaluation of your case.
You Must Prove Fault in a Personal Injury Claim
Unlike a workers’ compensation case, you would need to prove that someone else was actually at fault in personal injury cases. When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you must show that someone else was negligent. The burden of proof is on you in a personal injury case. You must prove that:
- Someone else owed you a duty of care
- That person breached the duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances
- You suffered an injury
- You would not have been injured had it not been for the actions of the defendant
If you cannot prove negligence, recovering compensation would not be a possibility for you.
You Do Not Need to Prove Fault in Workers Comp Claims
In a workers’ compensation claim, it does not matter who was at fault for the workplace accident, or if anyone was even at fault at all. You have a different burden as an injured person under workers’ compensation laws. You would need to prove the following:
- You suffered an injury
- The injury was work-related
Your injury does not even need to result from workplace accidents. If you suffer an injury over time that was related to your workplace duties, or you have been diagnosed with an illness as a result of workplace exposure, you may be able to file a workers comp claim.
The general rules of workers’ compensation are the same no matter the system. There are several dedicated workers’ compensation systems to help people like longshore workers and interstate railroad workers.
In each case, the workers’ comp system is the only remedy with very limited exceptions. There are worker’s compensation systems under state law and federal law.
Personal Injury Claims Could Mean More Compensation
Workers’ compensation claims will pay you the following benefits:
- Medical expenses to treat your injury or illness, including the cost of doctor’s visits, surgery, and vocational rehabilitation
- A portion of your lost wages for a duration of time, subject to a statutory cap (unless you suffered a permanent impairment as will be explained below)
As you can see, the workers’ comp vs personal injury comparison shows that you would not get as much money when you receive workers’ compensation benefits. While these benefits are certainly helpful, you may want to explore a potential personal injury lawsuit when you seek to recover damages for your injuries.
One of the reasons why personal injury claims pay more than a workers’ compensation claim is that you can receive non-economic damages in a negligence-based lawsuit. Things like pain and suffering damages can increase the size of your financial compensation.
You can also receive your full lost earnings, as opposed to a portion of your wages through weekly benefits that you would get in a workers’ compensation claim. You could be paid for a reduction in your earning capacity when your future earnings have been affected by your injuries.
In certain rare instances, you may even be able to obtain punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit when the responsible party has acted extremely poorly and recklessly.
You Cannot Usually Sue Your Employer in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The public policy protects employers from personal injury lawsuits. State law requires employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to pay benefits to injured workers when needed.
Employers need to spend money on these premiums, and their protection from personal injury claims is the trade-off that benefits the employer.
There are very few exceptions to the rule that an injured employee cannot sue their employer. There is not even an exception for an employee injured by their employer’s negligence. You should not count on an exception applying.
When You Can File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
An experienced lawyer would advise you that you can file personal injury claims when you have been injured by a third party’s negligence. Here are some examples of when the other party’s negligence may have injured you:
- You were involved in a car accident when you were on the job
- A third party was responsible for contamination or exposure to toxic substances
- There was a third-party contractor on a job site whose actions injured you
- Your work-related injury was caused by defective work equipment
In nearly all cases and states, an injured individual cannot file a lawsuit against a fellow employee whose actions have injured them.
A Workers’ Compensation Claim Will Be Quicker
When you file a workers’ compensation claim as an injured worker, there are statutory timelines for the insurance company to respond to your claim. They would need to give you a decision within a set period of time because the law recognizes that you need the money that workers comp pays in the form of weekly compensation checks.
Even if your workers’ compensation claim is denied, there is a much more accelerated timetable for deciding your appeal.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Have a Set Duration
While you can receive payments for medical expenses so long as you are injured, the payment of your lost wages does not permanently replace your lost earning capacity. Unless you have suffered a permanent impairment, your benefits will expire at a certain point.
Different states have different systems for permanent injuries. In Illinois, you can receive permanent impairment benefits for the rest of your career. When you receive benefits, they will be two-thirds of your pre-injury income, again subject to a statutory cap.
Some people may decide to accept a settlement from the workers’ compensation insurance company that pays them a lump sum upfront, as opposed to the weekly compensation that they may get for the duration of their careers. A work injury lawyer could help you negotiate a proper settlement agreement that fairly pays you.
How Are Medical Bills Paid?
Another difference between personal injury and workers’ compensation is that you have much more ability to control your own medical treatment in a personal injury claim than you would under workers’ compensation.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you have the ability to see your own doctors. Under workers comp, you would need to see a doctor selected by your employer. Then, future care would be from an employer-provided list. Medical bills would be paid as they are incurred.
Under personal injury law, you choose your own doctors. If you receive a settlement or jury award, you would be paid for the past medical bills that were paid and for future ones as well. Our law firm would work to estimate your future medical expenses because you would need to be paid them now.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
The important thing is that you obtain legal representation as soon as possible after you discovered that you have been sickened or injured at work. When you contact the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, we will explain the difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury law and fully review your claim.
A personal injury lawyer will extensively investigate your case after your free case evaluation. To take the first step to an attorney-client relationship with us, contact us online or call us today at (888) 424-5757