Suppose you are injured at your place of employment during work hours. You may be wondering what options you have to recover medical expenses and lost wages. Understanding the differences between filing a personal injury lawsuit or a claim under workers’ compensation is an essential first step.
Only certain classes of workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Unpaid volunteers, independent contractors, and domestic employees in private homes cannot receive workers’ compensation. Therefore, determining whether you qualify can assist you in deciding which claim to pursue.
If workers’ compensation covers your injury, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) provides administrative and judicial services for benefits. An injured party files a claim with their employer’s insurance carrier. For personal injury lawsuits, a case only starts when the injured party files a petition with a California court.
Below are some key differences between both claims.
Workers’ compensation provides immediate relief
Workers’ compensation provides immediate relief to a worker who suffers a work-related accident. That’s because workers’ compensation benefits are designed to provide the injured employee with medical treatment needed to recover from a work-related injury or illness. It may also include lost wages during the recovery period, rehabilitation, and temporary disability pension while you are unable to work. With very few exceptions, California requires employers to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, even if they only have one employee.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the court tries to quantify the worker’s injuries with a monetary award because it can’t mend broken bones. Depending on the extent of the worker’s injuries, damages can include pain and suffering and punitive damages. Workers’ compensation benefits do not have pain and suffering damages.
No-Fault Needed for Workers’ Compensation
In a workers’ compensation claim, the injured party does not have to show that the employer was “at fault” to prevail on their claim. Workers’ compensation would cover specific injuries, even if the employer or supervisor were not a fault. The injury only needs to be work-related.
Not having to show the employer’s fault is crucial when compared to a personal injury lawsuit. In almost all personal injury lawsuits, the injured party must show that the employer was negligent in their actions, leading to the injury. If the employer can show that they were not negligent, they can immediately dismiss the case.
Workers’ Compensation Does Not Cover All Damages
In a worker’s compensation claim, an injured employee is only entitled to recover reasonable medical care expenses, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, job displacement benefits if the injured worker cannot return to work, and death benefits.
For personal injury claims, an injured party has the potential to recover the same benefits offered under workers’ compensation, but also pain and suffering damages.
Contact a Skilled Attorney
Once an injured party files a workers’ compensation claim, they cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney at the Dan Rose Law Firm can help you make the right decision for you.