injured woman filing a workers' comp claim

Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury

Workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits provide injured persons an opportunity to obtain financial compensation for their injuries. However, there are several important differences between the two. In this article, we explain the differences between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits. 

Fault

In most personal injury cases, an injured party must prove that someone else caused his or her injuries. In other words, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit must demonstrate another’s fault before he or she can recover financial compensation. However, in workers’ compensation cases, the employee is not required to prove that his or her employer did something wrong in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, even if an employee’s own negligence contributed to his or her injury, he or she is still entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits in most cases. 

Damages

In personal injury lawsuits, a plaintiff is entitled to recover for all damages that he or she suffered as a result of the defendant’s wrongful conduct. This includes damages for medical expenses, the pain and suffering of the plaintiff, and other related damages. Differently, an employee making a workers’ compensation claim is only entitled to recover damages as outlined in the Workers’ Compensation Act. Such damages will not include recovery for pain and suffering. 

Suing an Employer or Co-Worker

In addition to the differences above, there are other important things that employees should understand about workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits. For one, most injured workers must seek compensation following an on-the-job injury via a workers’ compensation claim. In other words, there are very limited circumstances under which an employee may sue his or her employer by filing a personal injury lawsuit. For example, if an employer’s intentional act causes an employee’s injury, then the employee can ordinarily file a personal injury lawsuit. In addition, there are two classes of employees who don’t fall under any workers’ compensation laws: boat crew members and interstate railroad workers. 

Pursuant to a federal law called the Jones Act, a vessel crew member who is hurt on the job may sue his or her employer outside of workers’ compensation. In addition, a law called the Federal Employers Liability Act authorizes injured railroad workers to do the same. 

Hire an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney 

If you’ve been hurt on the job, you need an experienced attorney on your side. At Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, LLC, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help you with every aspect of the workers’ compensation claim process. When you come to us for assistance, we will do everything in our power to ensure that you are fully compensated for your workplace injuries. In addition to ensuring that all necessary documents are submitted in a timely manner, our experienced lawyers will gather evidence, negotiate on your behalf, and draft a settlement agreement if necessary. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.