What are the differences between workers’ comp and personal injury cases?
Like many workers, you may not know much about workers’ compensation and personal injury claims or have any need to be knowledgeable about them unless you are injured in a workplace accident. If this occurs, you will need to file a claim for compensation. It can be confusing to determine which type of claim to file, especially if you suffered injuries in a car accident—traditionally a personal injury claim—while on the job. Here, we explain some of the major differences between these two legal claims and your options for recovery if you are hurt in a workplace accident.
Difference #1: Fault in Causing Your Accident
One of the major differences in a workers’ compensation and personal injury claim is the issue of who was at fault in causing the accident. Here is how fault works in both types of claims:
In a personal injury case, you must prove the other party’s fault, or negligence, in causing your accident and injuries. In addition, if you were at all at fault in causing your injuries, you may receive less in settlement based on your comparative negligence.
In Georgia, like other states, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits no matter who caused your accident—even if it was you.
Difference #2: Types of Compensation You Could Receive
The types of compensation that you could be entitled to in a workers’ compensation and personal injury case is also very different. In a personal injury claim, you are entitled to be compensated for all of your losses. This can include the following:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages and benefits of the job
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death benefits
One of the major differences is that pain and suffering damages are not recoverable in workers’ compensation cases. You can receive these benefits in a workers’ comp case:
- Past and future medical bills
- Wage losses up to a current maximum of $575 per week for up to 400 weeks
- Partial permanent disability benefits
- Total permanent disability benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Death benefits
Difference #3: Right to Sue
You also have different rights to sue in a personal injury and workers’ compensation case. In exchange for the right to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault, you are not entitled to sue your employer or co-workers for negligence and pain and suffering damages. Instead, you are limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim.
In contrast, if you suffered an injury in a car, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident, you could file a lawsuit in civil court against any liable parties and request that you receive all the compensation you deserve.
Can You Ever File a Personal Injury Lawsuit If You Suffered a Workplace Injury?
In some cases, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance company and also pursue a claim for negligence. You would be able to do this if you suffered an injury at work, but it was caused by a third party’s negligence. Here are a few situations where you may have both claims:
- You are driving between job sites and are injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver. You can file a workers’ comp claim with your employer and a personal injury claim against the negligent driver.
- You are working on a construction site and a subcontractor’s employee causes your accident and injuries. You may have a negligence claim against the subcontractor as well as a right to workers’ compensation benefits from your employer.
- You are injured due to a defective tool you were using at work. You may have a separate products liability claim against the manufacturer.
Have You Been Injured At Work?
If you’ve been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Augusta office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation.