The Major Differences Between Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Claims

workers’ compensation casesAfter getting injured at work, it’s important to consider your options for compensation, particularly if your injury leaves you unable to work or limits your earning potential. There are significant differences between personal injury cases and workers’ compensation cases, and an attorney can help you decide which option suits your specific needs.

Assigning Fault

One of the primary differences between personal injury and workers’ compensation cases is how fault plays into your ability to seek compensation. For a successful personal injury case, you must be able to prove that the other party was negligent. Sometimes, accidents just happen—and that’s not enough for a personal injury case.

However, workers’ compensation does not require fault. Most employees injured at work can file a workers’ compensation claim, with a few exceptions. You do not need to prove that the company was negligent. Even an incident caused by your own negligence or an unpredictable accident qualifies for a workers’ compensation claim.

Differences in Damages

The type of claim you file determines which types of benefits you may seek. In a personal injury case, you can ask for compensation for your pain or suffering, as well as medical bills, lowered earning capacity, future medical expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life. With a workers’ compensation claim, you are much more limited. You may get weekly compensation for your income, benefits if you are permanently impaired, medical bill coverage, and rehabilitative therapy. You cannot ask for money for your pain and suffering.

Filing Process

Personal injury and workers’ compensation claims have significantly different filing processes. If you seek workers’ compensation, you start by telling your employer about your injury and filling out the necessary forms. You may also seek medical help to assess your injury. Your employer’s insurance company investigates your claim to determine if you are entitled to compensation.

If you file a personal injury case, the process starts when your personal injury attorney files a case on your behalf. The other party is served with court papers and both sides prepare their case. Depending on your specific circumstances, the case may settle before it reaches trial or it may go all the way through the legal system.

Right to Sue

It’s important to note that workers’ compensation is typically an exclusive remedy—when you go this route, you waive your right to sue. You cannot choose to file for workers’ compensation and start a personal injury case. In fact, if you are injured in the normal course of your employment, workers’ compensation may be your only option. In most situations, you cannot sue your employer or coworkers if you are injured on the job. If a third party is the cause of your injury—for example, a contractor or customer—a personal injury case could be a viable option for you.

We’re Here to Help You Seek Compensation

Whether a workers’ compensation case or a personal injury case is the right remedy for you, having the right legal counsel can make the process much easier. Call the West Palm Beach office of Scott J. Sternberg & Associates at 561-687-5660 to schedule a consultation.

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