What’s the difference between a workers’ comp and a personal injury claim?
If you were injured at work, you may be entitled to benefits through a workers’ compensation claim; but what about a separate personal injury claim?
At the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick LLC, we sometimes get calls from hurt workers who ask, “Can I file a personal injury claim for my work accident?” In most cases involving accidents at work, you cannot file a personal injury claim – also known as a tort claim – against your employer. Workers’ compensation is your only way to obtain benefits and a portion of your income while you recover, under the workers’ compensation statutes in Maryland, Virginia and DC.
But, what about the situation where your employer or agent of your employer is not the one who caused you to be injured. Instead, a third-party or some other company or person caused your injury. In that cases you may, in fact, have two cases; one for workers’ compensation and one for negligence against the responsible, unrelated party. Let’s first explain the differences between these types of claims.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance is “no fault” insurance. You don’t have to prove the accident was your employer’s fault. In fact, even if you caused the accident, you will still get compensation. You will receive medical and limited wage benefits regardless of fault. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation alone will not fully compensate you for severe injuries. It’s important to understand that you cannot recover for your pain and suffering, which is a big component of a personal injury claim; only your lost wages and medical expenses.
Our firm does not handle workers’ compensation claims that do not have a tort claim attached, but still urge anyone injured at work to talk to us, because you may have a right to file two claims, and if we cannot assist you, we can steer you to people who can.
In a personal injury claim the injured person has a much broader range of damages he/she can recover?
With a tort or negligence claim, you can seek compensation for not only lost wages and medical bills, but for pain and suffering, lost future earnings, current and future medical bills, permanent impairment, loss of enjoyment of life and perhaps more.
When you can pursue a workers’ comp and personal injury claim:
If you are injured at work and a third party was negligent, you have a right to file a tort claim in addition to a workers’ comp claim. Who is a third party? That would be an entity or person other than your employer. For example, if you are driving a vehicle as part of your job and are in an accident caused by a careless or reckless driver, you can bring two claims.
In another example, you might be working on a construction site. The general contractor is responsible for safety. If you are working for a subcontractor and are injured, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the general contractor. If another subcontractor caused your injury, you could also sue them. Keep in mind though on a construction site, the general contractor has a duty of safety to all, so it can always be a target.
Sometimes employees who get hurt don’t realize they may have a third-party claim, meaning entitled to additional compensation on top of the workers’ compensation insurance.
Not sure what type of claim you have?
Distinguishing between workers’ compensation and personal injury cases can be extremely complicated. If you are injured on the job you almost always have a workers comp. claim; but do you have a personal injury claim as well? Not sure what type of case you have? We urge you to contact the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick for a free consultation.
Attorney Plotnick can help you decide whether you’re dealing with workers’ comp case or you have a third-party personal injury claim. We will listen and help you decide the best way to proceed.