The Difference Between a Personal Injury and Workers’ Comp Claims
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In the U.S., the rate of fatal and nonfatal occupational injuries increases each year. In 2019 alone, 5,333 workers died from work-related injuries. The rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses differs slightly. In private industries, there have been 2.8 cases per 100 full-time workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When an accident happens, most victims are unsure of how to pursue compensation for their injuries.
As experienced workplace accident lawyers who represent Los Angeles clients for both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims, we are well-versed in both areas. Two factors differentiate both cases:
- Establishing fault
- If compensation is available
With any personal injury claim, determining fault is crucial if you hope to receive financial retribution from the negligent party. Whether you were in a car accident, sustained a slip and fall injury, or hope to pursue other claims, someone must have done something incorrectly. Whereas fault is not necessary for a successful workers’ compensation claim. It can be useful if you plan on filing a lawsuit down the road but not to retrieve compensation for damages owed to you.
Fault Not Required for Workers’ Compensation Reports
In California, employees injured while working are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If an injured worker submits a report to their employer within 30 days, he/she has a better chance of receiving compensation benefits. However, there are a few exceptions. Injured employees do not have to prove or demonstrate that a manager, co-worker, occupational hazard, or conditions caused injuries. Even if you caused the accident to happen, you are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Fault Necessary for Personal Injury Cases
Accidents can be a traumatic experience, and personal injury cases take that into account. It is best to retain an accident injury attorney in Los Angeles to determine the defendant’s percentage of negligence and fault. While you might be able to file a workers’ compensation claim without legal assistance, very rarely do victims obtain maximum compensation when they take on an injury claim alone. Establishing fault is an important element when it comes to reaching a proper settlement in court. Depending on your accident, a work injury lawyer in LA might be able to negotiate and win on before it goes to court.
To understand how important fault is, think about a slip-and-fall case. If you slipped on someone’s property, that does not mean that the owner is automatically negligent and responsible for your pain and suffering. Sometimes there are accidents where no one is responsible. However, leave it up to your attorney to decide.
In this type of personal injury claim, where you get hurt on another property, you and your legal counsel must prove that the owner failed to maintain and upkeep safety standards. Showing that the other party did something wrong might be enough to prove your case. Car accident cases (fender benders) are more straightforward. Normally, a Los Angeles injury lawyer negotiates with one defendant’s legal team to recover damages compared to other complex cases.
Damages for Pain and Suffering
Damages are monetary claims or awards given as compensation for losses or injuries. When it comes to personal injury lawsuits and workers’ compensation cases, damages vary as well. In a compensation case, you are not entitled to benefits for your injury. But, in a personal injury claim, you are entitled to recover all damages you suffered, like:
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Forthcoming medical expenses
- Permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
When your company’s insurance is handling your injury claim, you can only claim weekly compensation, benefits for a permanent disability, medical bills, and rehabilitative treatments. Victims rarely receive benefits for non-monetary pain and suffering. It is best to think about this as a business transaction, a trade-off between labor and business owners. Before workers’ compensation was an option, the only option employees had was to sue their employers for negligence. That meant when an employer was not found responsible for the accident, the employee got nothing. When in doubt, always consult with an accident attorney for compensation disputes.
When Can’t You Sue an Employer or Co-Workers?
Under workers’ compensation laws, workers injured on the job would receive weekly benefits and get their medical bills covered. Accepting the terms and conditions means you lose your right to sue your employer or co-workers for negligence. You will not be able to file for damages like pain and suffering either. There are few exceptions to this rule, such as intentional acts that caused you to get hurt.
When Can You Sue an Employer?
There are two classes of employees that do not qualify for workers’ compensation laws:
- Vessel employees
- Railroad employees
Employees who work on a cruise ship, or fishing boat, for example, are not eligible to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. They are protected individually under the Jones Act, which allows them to sue their employer directly. There is no limit on what they can pursue in a legal claim.
Similarly, railroad workers are protected under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and can sue their employer for damages in a train accident. Interstate railroad employees work in more than one state and require this protection. However, commuter rail workers do not always qualify to file under FELA.
In all circumstances, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in work injuries to make the legal process as stress-free as possible.
About Grey Law
“When it comes to getting you more, I won’t settle for less.” – David Grey
When you or a loved one gets injured due to negligence, carelessness, or wrongful acts of another person, David Grey is ready to help. Seeking compensation or negotiating with insurance companies can be stressful, especially while recovering. Let us do that for you. Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are well-versed in several practice areas:
- Traffic Accidents
- Premises Accidents
- Personal Injuries
- Product Liability
- Nursing Home Abuse
Why do you need a lawyer for accident compensation? With thousands of lawyers in California, we understand it can be difficult to choose the right legal representation. We have 35+ years of experience and secured millions for our clients. From the time you retain our firm, we build your case. For a free case evaluation and consultation, reach out to us at 323-768-0497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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