While most work-related injuries fall under workers’ compensation insurance, there are several circumstances when a worker can file for a personal injury claim as well. This will also depend on the statutes of the state where the injury occurred. The most common examples include and are not limited to:
• Defective product injuries: if the injury sustained is a result of a defective product; then a worker can file a suit against the manufacturer under personal injury law.
• Toxic substance injuries. The same applies to injuries from toxic substances. The injured party can file a toxic tort and hold the manufacturer liable for injuries.
• Intentional or egregious conduct: if you are injured because your employer’s deliberate actions caused harm, then a personal injury lawsuit is an option you can still explore.
• If a work-related injury is caused by a third party, the law provides that you can make a personal injury claim.
• In case your employer does not offer worker’s compensation insurance then you can sue him or her in a civil court under a personal injury claim.
Workers’ compensation also offers monetary benefits to cater for injuries, permanent disability, and temporary disability. However, these payments are low compared to the damages often awarded under personal injury claims. Besides, a worker compensation cover will not pay for punitive damages. In most cases, it is also hard to receive compensation for emotional trauma. In light of this, it is wise to consult with a personal injury attorney so that the merits of your case can be established. After a case evaluation, the lawyer will advise you on the best course of action, whether to file under a workers’ compensation or to make a personal injury claim.
To better understand your options, there is a need to distinguish between a worker’s compensation and a personal injury claim. The most important difference between the two is that a personal injury claim is based on fault, while a workers compensation claim is not. Under personal injury claims, damages are only awarded if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant acted negligently. Meaning their wrong actions caused the injuries.
Understanding fault in personal injury claims
A slip and fall accident is one of the most common personal injury claims filed. However, falling and getting injured does not automatically mean that someone was negligent or is at fault. There are many accidents that happen where no one is at fault. To receive compensation under a personal injury claim, you must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care and that he or she acted negligently causing injuries. The same case applies to accidents, compensation is only given after proving that another party was at fault.
No-fault in workers compensation claims
As long as you are injured at work, then you can file a worker’s compensation claim. This claim is not based on fault except in rare circumstances. To receive compensation, a worker does not have to prove who was at fault. The fact that you got injured qualifies you for compensation. Even if the accident were a result of your personal negligence, a workers compensation cover would still pay for the injuries suffered.
Another major difference between a worker’s compensation and personal injury claims is that under a worker’s compensation claim you are not entitled to receive compensation for pain and suffering. Suppose you suffer a traumatic injury while at work, the policy will cover the medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, and weekly compensation and impairment benefits. However, under personal injury, damages awarded include medical bills, future medical bills, pain and suffering lost wages, lost earning capacity, and loss of enjoyment of life, among other damages that the courts may deem necessary.
Generally, a worker forfeits their right to sue their employer or co-workers when they receive workers’ compensation. However, workers’ compensation laws differ from state to state. As such, it is best to consult with a personal injury lawyer or a workers compensation attorney to ascertain any limitations or exceptions held in your state.
There are certain states where some actions are not exclusively under the provision of the worker’s compensation statutes.
Some key exceptions may include:
Sexual harassment claims: In some states, a worker who has been sexually harassed cannot file a claim for workers’ compensation. In most cases, the workers have to file the suit against the employer or worker directly. It is good to check with the attorney to establish the stipulations of the state on claims related to sexual harassment.
Wrongful termination claims: Any emotional distress arising from a wrongful termination may not be payable under a workers compensation policy in some states. Other states may hold otherwise.
Employment discrimination claims: In most states, you will find that workers’ discrimination based on religion, race, gender, disability or race are not exclusively under workers’ compensation. This means that the injured party is not barred from filing these claims under other umbrellas such as personal injury.
As evidenced, the laws change from state to state, and there are several exceptions. If you have suffered an injury at work, the law may also offer you leeway to file a personal injury claim. This is why it is advisable to consult with an attorney. They are the best persons suited to guide you on how you should file. This will be based on the merits of your case and the circumstances surrounding the work-related injury.