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Jonathan Rosenfeld

October 21, 2022

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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 with medical bills and unable to earn a paycheck.

So long as your injury was work-related, you should be entitled to compensation that can help. You would still want to retain a personal injury lawyer to see if you can get more compensation in a lawsuit.

Contact the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for a free evaluation of your case.

Workers Comp vs Personal Injury

You Must Prove Fault in a Personal Injury Claim

Unlike a workers’ compensation case, you must prove that someone else was 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 possible.

How Workers Compensation Insurance Works: 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 at fault. Under workers’ compensation laws, you have a different burden than an injured person.

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-related to your work duties or have been diagnosed with an illness due to 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.

Several dedicated workers’ compensation systems help people like longshore and interstate railroad workers.

In each case, the workers’ comp system is the only remedy with limited exceptions. There are worker’s compensation systems under state law and federal law.

Most Common 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 comparison of workers’ comp vs. personal injury shows that you would not get as much when you receive workers’ compensation benefits.

While these benefits are 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 total 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 reduced earning capacity when your injuries affect your future earnings.

In rare instances, you may even 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

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 must spend money on these premiums; their protection from personal injury claims is the trade-off that benefits the employer.

A few exceptions exist to the rule that an injured employee cannot sue their employer.

There is no 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 a third party’s negligence has injured you.

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 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. You can receive permanent impairment benefits for the rest of your career in Illinois.

When you receive benefits, they will be two-thirds of your pre-injury income, again subject to a statutory cap.

Some people may accept a settlement from the workers’ compensation insurance company that pays them a lump sum upfront instead of the weekly compensation they may get for their careers.

A work injury lawyer could help you negotiate a reasonable settlement agreement that fairly pays you.

How Are Medical Bills Paid?

Another difference between personal injury and workers’ compensation is that you can control your medical treatment in a personal injury claim more than you would under workers’ compensation.

In a personal injury lawsuit, you can see your doctors. Under workers comp, you must see a doctor your employer selects. 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 doctors. If you receive a settlement or jury award, you will 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 discovering 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 thoroughly review your claim.

After your free case evaluation, a workers’ compensation injury lawyer will extensively investigate your case.

Contact us online or at (888) 424-5757 to take the first step to an attorney-client relationship.


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