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When Is It Better to File a Personal Injury Claim Instead of a Workers’ Comp Claim?

  • Published: December 9, 2022

If you’ve been injured on the job at your workplace while you were carrying out your work duties, you may be unsure of whether you should file a workers’ comp claim or a personal injury claim in order to help recover your damages and pay for your medical bills.

Often, employees who are injured at work assume their only option for financial recovery is through workers’ compensation benefits. However, in certain circumstances, it’s possible for individuals to file a personal injury claim for a job-related accident as well. Many individuals believe filing personal injury claims is the same thing as “suing” your boss. However, often a third party is liable, like a building owner. In this situation, the third party’s insurance would handle the expenses of their safety shortcomings. To learn more about these types of situations, you should consult with a reputable workplace accident lawyer who may be able to help.

Difference Between a Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Claim 

The biggest difference between a workers’ comp claim and a personal injury claim is that personal injury claims are based on fault. workers’ comp cases aren’t. For you to recover damages against another person for a slip-and-fall, car accident, or another type of personal injury claim, you must prove the other person was negligent.

Another big difference between the two types of claims is the type of compensation that is available. You’re eligible for a wider scope of damages in personal injury claims than you are in workers’ compensation claims, including punitive damages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more. Let’s take a closer look. 

Personal Injury Claims: You Need to Prove Another Person Was at Fault for Your Injury 

In order to get an understanding of the concept of fault in personal injury claims, consider the average slip-and-fall case. Just because you slipped and fell on another person’s property doesn’t mean this person who’s the property owner was negligent. Accidents do occur where nobody is at fault.

For you to recover damages for a slip-and-fall on another person’s property, you must prove that this other individual was negligent in their property maintenance. In other words, you need to prove that they did something wrong. Or, if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident, for you to recover compensation from the other involved driver, you must prove they were at fault.

Workers’ Comp Cases: Fault Isn’t Required 

In workers’ comp cases, any worker who sustains an injury on the job qualifies for workers’ comp benefits, with some extremely limited exceptions. There is no “fault” when it comes to workers’ compensation. You don’t have to prove your co-workers or employer did anything wrong for you to start receiving compensation benefits. Even if you were the negligent party and it was your own negligence that caused you to sustain the workplace injury, you still qualify for workers’ comp benefits.

The Different Types of Damages in California Claims

Another big difference between personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims is the type of damages. When it comes to a workers’ comp claim, you won’t receive compensation for pain and suffering. However, in a personal injury claim, you can recover all damages you suffered because of a workplace injury. This means you have the ability to claim:

  • Medical bills
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Future medical costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Hedonic damages
  • Permanent impairment
  • And more

But, when it comes to a workers’ comp case, you only receive:

  • Medical bills compensation
  • Permanent impairment benefits
  • Weekly earnings compensation
  • Vocational rehabilitation

As such, workers’ comp benefits only ensure you’re not paying out-of-pocket due to a job-related injury that you sustained. So, you can’t claim pain and suffering since workers’ comp is actually a form of insurance.

Can You Receive Both Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation? 

Typically, workers’ comp is an exclusive solution, meaning, if you become injured on the job, you can only recover workers’ comp payments. You won’t be able to receive both personal injury compensation and workers’ compensation, and you won’t be able to opt for a personal injury case over a workers’ compensation case.

Instead, the only solution you have is to utilize the workers’ compensation program in order to recover compensation that’s through the insurance program. But, in certain cases, it is possible for you to file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim for the same accident. This is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Generally, if you sustain an injury at work due to a third party’s negligence, you can still file a lawsuit against the third party. That is, if a contractor, customer, or other individual acts in a manner that results in your injury, the workers’ comp program won’t keep you from bringing a claim against this individual. Again, each case is different and it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced personal injury or workers’ compensation lawyer to learn more.

Contact an Experienced California Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today 

If you’ve been injured on the job, you may wish to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly-skilled workers’ compensation or personal injury attorneys here at KCNS Law Group to discuss your legal options. We’ll help you explore the reason behind your job-related injury to assess whether you can file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim. Regardless of the type of claim you file, our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers at KCNS Law Group can help you determine which type of claim is best for your situation and they may be able to help maximize your claim.

We’ll assist you in filing your claim, whether it’s a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim, and handle all associated tasks, so you can focus on healing and recovering from your workplace injury. Contact us today at (818) 937-9255 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation and discuss your potential case and which legal options are best for you to pursue.

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