One similarity between work injury claims and personal injury claims is that they both involve bodily injury. Another similarity is that both types of claims are filed in order to collect monetary compensation for bodily injury. The similarities end there, however. The major difference between the two types of claims is that a personal injury claim is based on fault and a work injury claim is not.
What Are Personal Injury Claims?
Fault must be established in order for a personal injury claim to be proven. You are attempting to show that your injury was the result of inappropriate, negligent or illegal behavior on the part of another person. On the other side, the defendant in a personal injury case must demonstrate that their action or inaction was not negligent or responsible for your injury.
For example, if you are walking down a residential street and are attacked by a neighbor’s dog, you could file a personal injury claim against the neighbor, alleging that they failed to properly secure his dog and provide a safe environment for pedestrians. The crux of the claim would be that your neighbor did do all they could to ensure his dog would not harm pedestrians who walked past his property.
How is That Different From a Work Injury Claim?
Fault is not a factor in work injury claims, commonly known as workers’ compensation or workers’ comp claims. An injured worker does not have to demonstrate that his employer or co-workers caused his injury. Furthermore, the worker can receive compensation for his injuries even if they were due to his own negligence or that of a co-worker.
Damages in Personal Injury and Work Injury Claims
You can sue for damages suffered in a personal injury claim, which could include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost Earnings
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent injury or impairment
Workers’ compensation was designed to provide injured workers with weekly benefits and to cover work-related medical bills, in exchange for workers’ forfeiting their right to sue their employers and/or co-workers for damages. If, however, you have problems collecting you may have to file suit for your injuries. Some situations in which you may sue include:
- Your injury resulted from your employer’s egregious or intentional conduct.
- Your employer does not carry worker’s compensation insurance.
- A third party caused your workplace injury.
- You are a crew member of a vessel. A vessel crew members can sue his employer for damages for work-related injuries under the Jones Act.
- You are an interstate railroad worker. An interstate railroad workers can sue his employer for damages for work-related injuries under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).
- Your employer or the insurance carrier denies your claim, in which case you can file an appeal.
Process of Filing a Personal Injury or Work Injury Claim
Filing a work injury claim typically involves reporting the injury-causing incident to a supervisor within a specified time frame, getting a medical examination by a physician hired by the employer and completing the necessary paperwork. If a work injury claim is denied the case then proceeds for review by an administrative law judge.
Personal injury claims are usually filed through the at-fault party’s insurance company by an attorney representing the injured party. The attorney attempts to negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement. If the insurance company denies the claim or does not offer a fair settlement, the attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Should You Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
A workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you with filing a work injury claim by making sure you complete all the required paperwork in a timely manner. A workers’ compensation lawyer can also advise you of the best course of action if your claim is denied. If you decide to file an appeal, a workers’ compensation lawyer can be a valuable ally.
If you would like to speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer about a work injury claim, or you filed a claim and it has been denied, contact the personal injury attorneys at Harris & Graves to schedule a consultation.