What is the Difference Between Personal Injury vs Worker’s Compensation Claims?

What is the Difference Between Personal Injury vs Worker’s Compensation Claims?

What is the Difference Between Personal Injury vs Worker's Compensation Claims?

Workers’ compensation and personal injury claims may seem quite similar, but there are major differences. One of the biggest differences is that a personal injury claim is based on ‘fault’, whereas workers’ compensation is not. To recover damages in personal injury claims, the person should have no fault. In workers’ compensation, it is possible to get compensation despite shouldering fault.

What is workers’ compensation?

The workers’ compensation law seeks to protect employees that have suffered injuries at the workplace. It is mandatory for organizations in Midland and Odessa with more than 3-4 employees to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. This type of insurance provides cash and medical benefits to employees that are injured while performing their duty.

What is a personal injury claim?

Personal injury falls under the purview of civil law and seeks to compensate victims of accidents or character defamation. The ‘plaintiff’ in a personal injury lawsuit is often the injured victim or their family members, while the ‘defendant’ is the person who is responsible for the injury either because of a deliberate or unintentional act. When the defendant passes the blame on another party, that party is called the ‘cross-defendant’.

To receive damages in a personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove the fault of the defendant. This concept is best understood with the help of an example. Suppose you slip and fall on someone else’s property. In this case, you will not be entitled to receive damages from the property owner. Just because you fell down and hurt yourself on another person’s property does not make him/her liable for your injury. However, if you meet with a car accident caused by faulty road design, you can bring a claim against the relevant government agency. But it should be remembered that it is the duty of the plaintiff to prove the guilt of the defendant.

Both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims differ from each other in a number of significant respects. These include:

1. Proving fault

A workers’ compensation case is relatively easy to deal with since any employee that is injured on the job is eligible for benefits (though there are some exceptions). It has nothing to do with the fault of the plaintiff unlike a personal injury case. The victim only needs to prove they were on the job when they suffered the injury. The worker is entitled to receive compensation even they were negligent.

2. Different damages

Another big difference between a personal injury claim and workers’ compensation is that you cannot file a lawsuit for pain and suffering in a workers’ compensation case. This is possible in personal injury claims lawsuits where damages may include lost earnings, future earning capacity, medical bills, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and various other damages. In a workers’ compensation case, you are only entitled to receive weekly compensation, permanent impairment benefit and vocational rehabilitation.

The concept of workers’ compensation is based on a tradeoff between workers and business owners where the only available remedy that injured workers have against their employers is to sue them for negligence. In such cases, if the employer isn’t found to be negligent, the employee does not receive any compensation at all.

3. Right to use

As per the workers’ compensation law, all injured workers are entitled to receive weekly benefits and emoluments to pay for their medical bills. But they lose the right to sue their employer or co-worker for negligence as well as the right to recover compensation for pain and suffering. That is not the case in personal injury lawsuits. In personal injury lawsuits, though the plaintiff doesn’t receive immediate benefits, their right to sue the employer and co-workers remains intact.

4. Legal process is different

The process of filing a workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim is different. The former can be initiated when you notify your employer of an injury. Both you and your employer need to fill up certain forms and submit them to the insurance company, which investigates the claim and may also ask for a medical examination if it deems it necessary. In case you are not satisfied with the insurance company’s decision, it is possible to file an appeal with the Division of Industrial Relations. A personal injury claim, on the other hand, is initiated with a demand letter to the defendant, their insurance company, and your own insurance company to keep them in the loop.

5. Other considerations

In case your employer is aggrieved with your decision to file a workers’ compensation claim, you are entitled to bring a lawsuit against them in court for dismissal. You can also file a report on unsafe working conditions with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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