Getting injured on the job is an emotionally trying time. Your first thought is how you will support yourself and your family while you are recovering. You may even harbor resentment towards your employer because you feel it was their fault. Workers’ compensation and personal injury suits are two ways that you can obtain the money that you need to support yourself and hold your employer accountable. You must be educated on both routes to justice to know which one to take.
The Differences Between Workers’ Compensation And Personal Injury Suits
The major difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury suits are the presence of fault. No fault is required in workers’ compensation. You do not need to prove that your employer or co-workers were at fault for your injury. Even if the injury was your fault, you might still be entitled to workers’ compensation.
To file a personal injury suit, you must prove that your injury was a direct result of your employer’s or co-workers’ dereliction of duty. You and your lawyer must be able to present definitive evidence of negligence on your employer’s or co-worker’s part.
The payment for damages is different in workers’ compensation and personal injury. You may not receive restitution for pain and suffering and any other damages that you have suffered from in workers compensation; therefore, you may receive less restitution. If your file and win a personal injury suit, you receive restitution for all the damages that you have suffered; therefore, you may receive much more restitution.
Right to sue
Keep in mind that if you accept workers’ compensation, you are relinquishing your right to sue. Workers’ compensation laws state that injured workers receive weekly benefits in exchange for not filing a suit. Crew members of vessels and interstate railroad workers are an exception to the law. They are not entitled to workers’ compensation and are entitled to sue.
Workers’ compensation provides benefits for lost wages and medical bills that are related to the injury. The benefits can be paid for an extensive period (most commonly weekly) or in one settlement. Personal injury suits provide benefits for even more damages (e.g., loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, punitive damages, future injuries/losses. etc.).
Settlements and procedures
Personal injury suit settlements can be settled outside of court. The parties can sign a release. Workers’ compensation settlements must be approved by a judge in Workers’ Compensation Court. Personal injury suit procedures start when the injured party files a complaint to the court. Workers’ compensation procedures start when either party files a claim with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. No trial or juries are involved. A personal injury suit can take months to settle, and a trial and juries may be involved. It may even cost you more to file a suit, and there is a chance that you will not win.
Turning the wheels of justice
Keep in mind that workers’ compensation laws vary state by state. Many states require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance if they have a certain number of employees and are in a certain industry. Small businesses or certain industries may be exempt from state laws. When determining whether to receive workers’ compensation or file a lawsuit, you need to weigh out what you are entitled to, the evidence that indicates fault, how much restitution you will receive from each, and the time and money you are willing to put into each. When in doubt, consult an attorney in your area.