A common misconception is that a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim are one in the same. That is not true. It is important to understand the differences between these two recovery mechanisms so you understand the legal options available to you if you suffer an injury.
Workers’ compensation is a state-based program governed by statutory law. Employers pay into the workers’ comp system. Most personal injury claims, on the other hand, are based in “common law” which means that case law has played a big role in influencing the viability of a personal injury claim.
The biggest and most important difference between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim is the issue of fault. Personal injury claimants carry a heavier burden when attempting to recover financial restitution from a defendant.
How? Well, to have a viable personal injury claim, fault must be established and the injured party bringing the claim has the burden of establishing fault. This issue is irrelevant in workers’ compensation claims. So, for example, if you were hurt in an auto accident, you (the injured party) have the burden of presenting evidence that the other driver was careless, reckless, or did something wrong which proximately caused your harm.
If you were hurt on the job and file a workers’ compensation claim, you are entitled to benefits. Workers’ compensation does not consider fault when issuing benefits. This means that you do not need to prove that your employer and/or your co-workers were negligent in order for you to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Trade-Off: Pain and Suffering Damages Not Recoverable Through Workers’ Compensation
If you get seriously injured in an auto accident, motorcycle wreck, or dog bite you can pursue restitution for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The pain and suffering damages are meant to compensate you for the inconvenience, embarrassment and intangible difficulties associated with a serious physical injury (e.g., waking up in the middle of night with back pain or neck pain, being unable to play with your kids, etc.).
If you file a workers’ compensation claim, you cannot pursue pain and suffering damages. In exchange for workers’ compensation being a fault-free benefit system, you are limited to only pursuing weekly compensation, benefits if you are permanent impaired, medical bills, and/or vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Speak to a Norfolk Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you were seriously injured in an auto accident or slip and fall accident, important to take legal action sooner rather than later. To get a better idea of your legal options and whether you can pursue a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury claim, contact Emily today to schedule a free, confidential case analysis.