There are many different types of compensation lawsuits that you could file after an accident. Two of these are personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims. It is very important to understand the difference between these two before you seek legal advice. Essentially, there are two differences between these two claims, being the types of compensation that you can claim and the fault requirements.
Basic Difference Between Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Lawsuits, Claims or Cases
The most important and biggest difference by far between the two is that a workers’ compensation claim is not based on fault, whereas a personal injury claim is. If you wish to recover suffered damages as a result of a slip and fall, car accident or any other type of negligence, you will have to demonstrate that a third party has actually been negligent in their action or inaction. Hence, they have done something wrong. This is not the case with workers’ compensation.
Showing Fault in a Personal Injury Claim
One great example of a personal injury claim is a slip and fall accident. If you slip over and fall on somebody else’s property, the owner or occupant of that property does not necessarily have had to have been negligent. The reality is that accidents happen, and sometimes, nobody is at fault for that. If you want to file a personal injury claim, however, then you must demonstrate that the owner or occupier of the property neglected to do something and that this is what caused you to have an accident in the first place. This is the burden of proof that lies in your corner.
No Need for Fault in Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, there is no need to apply fault. This is because any worker who is injured while working is entitled to compensation by law, although there are some very limited exceptions. This type of compensation is in no way linked to fault. You do not have to prove that somebody was to blame for your accident in order to receive the benefits that you are entitled to. In fact, even if your own negligence was what caused the injury, you will still be entitled to the benefits under workers’ compensation.
The Different Damages
The other big difference between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits is the kind of damages. In a workers’ compensation claim, you will not be compensated for pain and suffering. With personal injury claims, by contrast, you can recover any and all damages you suffered as a result of the injury. This means you can claim loss of earnings, but also loss of earning capacity, future medical expenses, medical bills, pain and suffering, permanent impairment, hedonic damages and more.
By contrast, in a workers’ compensation case, you can only receive permanent impairment benefits, vocational rehabilitation and medical bills compensation, as well as weekly earnings compensation. As such, workers’ compensation only ensures you are not out of pocket due to the injury you sustained. You will not, therefore, be able to claim for pain and suffering. This is because workers’ compensation is actually a form of insurance, or a trade between the business owner and the providers of labor. Workers’ compensation laws only came into force around the turn of the 20th century and this was because injured workers would otherwise not have any claim other than negligence to make against their owners. If the employer wasn’t negligent, therefore, employees would simply be out of pocket. The history of workers’ compensation shows how the government tried to remedy this.
Coworkers or Employers Cannot Be Sued
Workers’ compensation laws are in place to make sure that if someone is injured at work, they would have their medical bills paid and would receive weekly benefits as well. The tradeoff is that workers cannot sue their coworkers or employers for negligence. Furthermore, they lost the right to sue for pain and suffering damages.
There are two cases, however, where this rule does not apply. The first is for interstate railroad workers and the second is for crew members of vessels. Whether the vessel is the world’s largest cruise boat or a small commercial fishing boat, workers’ compensation benefits do not apply to you. Instead, you can apply under the Jones Act, which allows you to sue your employer. You can claim for all damages, but also for pain and suffering in this case.
Interstate railroad workers are also covered under a federal law, namely the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). This law allows them to sue for damages after an injury at work. One of the reasons for this is that most interstate railroad workers operate across different states. It is also for this reason that commuter railroad workers are not always covered under FELA. However, if they are not, then regular workers’ compensation laws apply to them.