If you’re wondering what’s the difference between a worker’s compensation and personal injury case, you are certainly not alone. These two similar-seeming cases are different, but the reason why might surprise you. The most important distinction is based on either assigning fault to one or more parties or not having to prove fault at all. In a personal injury case, you must prove another party is at fault. Some examples of personal injury cases are car accidents, slip and fall incidents, and other comparable circumstances where negligence is central cause of the accident and ultimately to the success of a lawsuit. In workers’ compensation claims, the fault of others is not an issue.
What’s the Difference between a Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury Case?
Another difference between a worker’s compensation claim and a personal injury case are the type of applicable laws. In a personal injury case, your plaintiff attorney must prove the negligence of someone else and how that wrongdoing harmed you. However, in a worker’s compensation claim, you are not required to prove fault of your employer or fault of your coworkers. Even if you are at fault for your injuries, you are still entitled, by law, to receive benefits.
If you are injured on the job, your employer is required by law to pay for workers’ compensation benefits. You could get hurt by an event at work such as harming your back in a fall, getting burned by a chemical that splashes on your skin, or getting hurt in a car accident while making deliveries. Additionally, repeated exposures at work such as hurting your hand, back, or other part of the body from doing the same motion over and over or losing your hearing because of constant loud noise. Workers’ compensation covers some, but not all, stress-related (psychological) injuries caused by your job. Also, workers’ compensation may not cover an injury that is reported to the employer after the worker is told he or she will be terminated or laid off. —State of California Department of Industrial Relations
Yet another important point is that in California, unlike some other states, is a fault or “tort,” state. California is unique in four aspects of tort law through certain acts, guidelines, and provisions which are: 1. The California Tort Claims Act; 2. The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act; 3. Evidence Guidelines; 4. and the “Reckless Misconduct” provisions. One or more of these might come into play, depending on the circumstances of a personal injury case. It is important to note that if you are injured in a car accident while driving for your employer, you may be entitled to a 3rd Party Claim which would be a claim or lawsuit against the driver who hit you. For clarification, here are some of the other differences between a worker’s compensation and personal injury case:
- Fault is required in personal injury cases. In a personal injury case, you make a claim and possibly file a lawsuit to seek compensation for the negligence of another person or persons. For example, if you are injured in a car accident and your injuries were the result of another driver’s fault, you need to demonstrate the other driver’s negligence in order to prevail with your claim.
- No fault is required to be proven in workers’ compensation claims. Unlike a personal injury cases, where you need to prove the fault of another person, there is no burden of proof where in you are required to prove another’s negligence caused you harm. In worker’ compensation cases, fault is not a legal issue.
- Damages also differ between personal injury and workers’ compensation. Another stark difference between personal injury cases and workers’ compensation claims is what damages or compensation you might receive. In a personal injury case, you are entitled by law, compensation for all of your pain and suffering. However, in a worker’s compensation claim, you are not entitled to receive compensation for any pain and suffering, but rather each type of injury has a general monetary value assigned to it.
- No right to sue your employer or coworkers. Workers’ compensation claims also differ in that you do not have a right to sue your employer or coworkers. This is because a worker’s compensation claim pays all medical bills, even though it does not provide compensation for pain and suffering.
If you’ve been injured on the job, suffered a personal injury, or perhaps both, you need to speak with an experienced attorney immediately to learn about your legal options and possibility of receiving just compensation. Don’t hesitate because the law limits the amount of time you have to take action.