Injuries in the workplace take place in many forms from overexertion to roadway accidents. Determining what you may be entitled to recover is not always apparent -a single injury related to your employment, such as a car accident, can lead to a variety of claims against various parties. A good starting point is understanding the difference between negligence and workers’ compensation. These are separate and distinct claims with different burdens of proof, procedural steps and methods of recovery. Below is an overview of the basic distinctions between personal injury and worker’s compensation claims that can be helpful in understanding your rights in the event of injury.
The most significant difference between a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit is that the former is not based on proving fault. In a typical negligence claim, a plaintiff cannot recover unless he proves that the other party acted negligently in carrying out his duty of care and that the injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence. This requires establishing the four elements of a negligence claim: duty, breach, proximate cause and damages. The plaintiff is not entitled to an award unless each of these elements is proven.
A workers’ compensation claim entitles any employee who suffered an injury on the job to certain benefits. An employee has no obligation to demonstrate that another individual is liable for the injury through his action or lack of action. The claimant merely needs to show that the injury happened in the course of employment or was related to employment. The injured worker can even recover benefits when his own negligence was the cause of the injury.
While the burden of proof for a workers’ compensation claim is more lenient, the scope of damages is also narrower. A plaintiff in a negligence claim is entitled to collect damages for pain and suffering, lost earnings, medical bills, future injuries or losses, loss of enjoyment and permanent disability. At the end of trial or at settlement, the injured party receives a final, one-time award and cannot pursue additional remedies at a later time.
An injured employee who files a workers’ compensation claim cannot receive benefits for pain and suffering related to the accident. The damages are limited to medical benefits, rehabilitation and wage loss, and in some cases, additional benefits for specific loss. However, medical benefits and lost wages may be payable on a continuous basis while the claimant is disabled to compensate him for lost wages.
Negligence claims are initiated when a plaintiff files a complaint. Discovery proceedings take place and if the parties do not settle, a trial is scheduled. When the trial concludes, a judge or jury issues a final verdict and determines the plaintiff’s award, if any.
Workers’ compensation claims are not handled through a standard litigation process. Instead, the employee must report the injry to the employer as soon as possible. He then must file a variety of documents with the state’s workers’ compensation agency within a certain period of time. It is important that injured employees strictly adhere to the procedural requirements for obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.
Both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims can be complex and require the knowledge of an experienced attorney. If you or a member of your family was severely injured or killed in a workplace injury, contact Alexander Law Group, LLC. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will be sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Call 888.777.1776, or contact us online.