Understanding the Differences Between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Suits

Both workers’ compensation and personal injury lawsuits can provide compensation to an injured person. The main differences between these types of claims are the fault requirements and the available damages.

In some cases, a person can file a workers’ comp claim and a personal injury claim. Your legal options depend on the type of work you do and the circumstances of your injury.

Workers’ Compensation is a No-Fault System

A worker who is injured on the job is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of who was at fault. There is no need to prove that your employer’s or co-worker’s negligence caused the injury. Even if your own negligence caused your injury, you are still eligible for workers’ comp.

To recover compensation in a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove that another party is at fault. And if you are partially to blame for your injury, this can reduce the amount of compensation you receive from a personal injury suit.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Offer a Wider Range of Damages

The typical workers’ compensation claim provides weekly compensation to an injured worker based on a percentage of the injured worker’s average earnings. A workers’ comp claim can also provide money for permanent impairment, medical bills, rehabilitation services, and vocational retraining.

Importantly, a workers’ comp claim does not provide compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering damages, hedonic damages (i.e., loss of enjoyment of life), or punitive damages. Non-economic damages are available in a personal injury lawsuit.

A Worker Usually Cannot Sue Their Employer or Co-Workers

The workers’ compensation system is a compromise between employee and employer rights. While the system provides workers with compensation for injuries regardless of fault, injured workers usually give up their right to sue their employer and co-workers. But there are exceptions to this rule, including:

  • The employer failed to carry workers’ comp insurance
  • The employer’s actions were intentional or very likely to cause serious harm or death
  • The employee is the crewmember of a boat and is authorized under the Jones Act to sue their employer
  • The employee is an interstate railroad worker subject to the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)

In addition, a worker injured on the job might be able to file a workers’ compensation claim as well as a personal injury suit if their injuries were caused by a negligent third party, such as:

  • A building owner, subcontractor, or other person who doesn’t work for the employee’s company
  • The manufacturer of a defective product or toxic substance that was involved in the injury
  • If you were injured, a personal injury lawyer can help you understand which legal course of action is the most suitable for your situation.

Experienced Bronx personal injury law firm helps victims recover compensation

The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn have more than three decades of experience providing caring attention and vigorous defense to injured workers. We charge no legal fees unless your case is successful. Contact Mr. Kohn or call 718-409-5500 to schedule your free consultation. Se habla español.