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Workers Compensation vs. Personal Injury Lawsuits: Understanding the Differences

Lisa Babiarz News, Personal Injury & Workers Compensation

Accidents can happen anywhere. From work to the road, life-changing accidents often require the help of both worker compensation attorneys and personal injury attorneys. But are these one-in-the-same?

Yes and no.

Although worker compensation law firms often cover personal injury cases as well, there are different courses of action for the two. This article aims to shed light on these two legal paths, clarifying when they come into play and offering examples to illustrate their distinctions.

Personal Injury Lawsuits: Seeking Recovery

Personal injury lawsuits cover a range of damages and losses an individual suffers due to an accident or injury caused by another party’s negligence or wrongful actions. These lawsuits seek to compensate the injured party for their physical, emotional, and financial hardships.

In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party, known as the plaintiff, can seek various forms of compensation. Medical expenses are a significant component and cover the costs associated with hospitalization, surgeries, doctor visits, prescription medications, rehabilitation, and ongoing treatment related to the injury.

Additionally, the plaintiff can pursue compensation for lost wages or income if the injury has caused them to miss work or rendered them unable to work for a period of time. This may include future loss of earning capacity if the injury results in long-term or permanent disability.

Furthermore, personal injury lawsuits can provide compensation for pain and suffering endured by the injured party. Pain and suffering encompass physical pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-economic damages resulting from the injury. Additionally, if the defendant’s actions were intentional, punitive damages may be awarded as a deterrent and punishment to the responsible party.

Personal injury lawsuits require a crucial component: Negligence or someone being in the wrong. This is an important point to remember as we discuss worker’s compensation.

Workers’ Compensation Lawsuits: Protecting Injured Workers

Workers’ compensation is a program that serves as a safety net for employees who experience work-related injuries or illnesses. This specialized insurance program ensures injured workers receive essential benefits, regardless of fault.

Employees injured on the job can file a workers’ compensation claim through their employer’s insurance provider. One key feature of workers’ compensation is that it operates on a no-fault system. This means that employees are entitled to benefits without having to prove someone was in the wrong.

In some cases, workers’ compensation may not fully address the extent of damages suffered by an injured worker. This is where personal injury lawsuits come into play. Remember that, unlike workers’ compensation claims, personal injury lawsuits are based on the concept of negligence.

Why Might A Worker’s Compensation Claim Change to a Personal Injury Suit?

A workers’ compensation claim may change to a personal injury lawsuit under certain circumstances. Here are some common reasons for such a change:

Third-Party Liability: If someone other than the employer or a co-worker is responsible for the worker’s injuries, the injured employee may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against that third party.

For example, suppose a worker is injured due to a defective product or the negligence of a subcontractor on a construction site. In that case, they may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer or the subcontractor.

Intentional Harm: In cases where the worker’s injuries resulted from intentional harm or egregious misconduct on the employer’s part.

Take, for example, an assault or intentional infliction of emotional distress. The injured employee may consider pursuing a personal injury lawsuit instead of or in addition to the workers’ compensation claim.

Inadequate Workers’ Compensation Benefits: In some instances, the benefits provided through workers’ compensation may need to be increased to cover the full extent of the worker’s losses. This is especially true regarding non-economic damages like pain and suffering. In such cases, the injured employee may pursue a personal injury lawsuit to seek additional compensation.

Dispute or Denial of a Workers’ Compensation Claim: If a workers’ compensation claim is disputed or denied by the employer or insurance company, the injured worker may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries. This often occurs when there is a disagreement regarding the eligibility of the claim or the extent of the injuries.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the distinctions between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits is crucial for injured workers seeking fair compensation.

It’s essential to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney or personal injury lawyer to understand the specific circumstances of your case and determine the most appropriate legal action to pursue. They can provide guidance based on the applicable laws and help navigate the process effectively.

If you require legal assistance with your workers’ compensation claim in the Central New York area, turn to the experienced worker’s compensation lawyers serving Geneva, Auburn, Ithaca, and Penn Yan, New York. Contact the worker’s compensation law firm of Littman and Babiarz for expert guidance and support.

And remember, when it comes to securing the compensation you deserve, Littman and Babiarz’s skilled worker’s compensation attorneys are here to fight for your rights. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us navigate the legal complexities on your behalf.