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Work Injury vs Personal Injury Claims: What You Need To Know

Work injury claims and personal injury claims have two main differences that affect how you handle them in court. Personal injury claims require proof of fault while workers’ compensation claims do not. Although the fact that you don’t need to prove fault in a workers’ compensation case might make such cases seem easier to legally pursue, the potential compensation for these cases is also more limited. In order to make the most of your claim, make sure you choose the right course of action by contacting a workers’ compensation lawyer.

Why Doesn’t Fault Matter in a Work Injury Case?

Simply put, an injured worker is typically entitled to workers’ compensation regardless of the nature of the work related accident. This makes proving fault in such cases unnecessary. A personal injury case, on the other hand, can involve wrongdoing or negligence on the part of a person or group. As a result, in order for a personal injury claim to be valid in court, the injured person must prove that someone made a mistake; they must prove fault. Let’s look at two examples to get a better idea of why this is the case.

In the first example, a worker’s own negligence causes him to get injured on the job. Even though this worker’s injury is a result of his own mistake, he is still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The worker doesn’t need to prove that his co-workers or employer caused his injury because he can receive benefits, in most cases, no matter what.

In a second example, a driver gets into an accident with another vehicle, and subsequently injured, at least partially due to an “act of god”, like a hailstorm or a collision with an animal. She believes that the other driver is at fault, but the other driver believes the outside influences caused the accident. To determine whether the injured person can receive compensation from a personal injury claim, she must prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident. Since true “accidents” that are no one’s fault do happen, personal injury claims must prove fault in court in order to receive compensation.

Differences in Compensation

In a workers’ compensation case, unlike a personal injury case, the injured person cannot receive benefits for pain and suffering. Workers’ comp will only pay you for your wages, medical bills, any rehabilitation you might need and additional damages for permanent impairment. Workers’ compensation laws were created to ensure that an injured worker could maintain a livable quality of life even after an injury prevented him or her from returning to work.

The point of these laws is to provide an agreement between workers and employers in which workers can receive monetary protection regardless of how they became injured, and employers can receive legal protection from being sued and from having to compensate for pain and suffering.

Exceptions

If you are part of a boat crew, regardless of the boat’s size, you won’t be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you get injured on the job. However, the Jones Act allows you to sue your employer for damages, including pain and suffering. If you are a crew  member on a vessel who has been injured at work, contact an attorney who specializes in lawsuits related to the Jones Act.

Additionally, if you are a worker for a railroad that operates in multiple states, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) allows you to sue your employer for damages in the event you get injured while at work. If you are an interstate railroad worker who has been injured on the job, contact a FELA lawyer for assistance.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you’ve sustained a work injury, reaching out to a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you receive the benefits you’re entitled to. At Heuser & Heuser, LLP, we can help you better navigate a complex legal system and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.