If you are hurt through the course of your employment, you are entitled to compensation. However, you will go though the workers compensation system as opposed to filing a personal injury lawsuit. This ensures that you are compensated for your injuries without having to go through a lengthy legal process. What are the differences between the workers’ compensation process and a personal injury lawsuit?
Workers Compensation Is an Insurance Policy
Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy that an employer purchases to cover their employees. If you are self-employed, you may want to buy your own policy to ensure that you get treatment if you are hurt while on the job. If you are hurt on the job, you will work with the insurance company as well as your employer to determine if you are entitled to benefits.
Damages Are Limited By State Law
One of the downfalls of going through workers’ compensation as opposed to pursuing a personal injury suit is that you benefits are limited by state law. For instance, if you were hurt in 2016, your maximum benefit would be two-thirds of your salary multiplied by the extent of your disability. For instance, if you made $1,000 a week and were completely disabled by your injury, you would receive $666 a week.
What If I Can’t Go Back to Work?
If you cannot go back to work, you may be entitled to two-thirds of your average pay at the time of your injury. Therefore, you could make up to $666 a week in benefits if you were injured at time when you made $1,000. However, you may be entitled to additional compensation if you have dependents or other factors are at play.
You Generally Aren’t Compensated for Secondary Complications
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you could claim that you experienced pain and suffering as well as emotional distress after getting hurt. You could also claim that you are entitled to punitive damages as a result of your employer’s negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. In a workers’ compensation proceeding, no one is deemed to be at fault. Fortunately, you don’t need to sue for medical bills or lost wages as that is already covered by state law.
What If I’m Hurt Because of Third-Party Negligence?
There are a couple of rare exceptions when it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit. First, the injury occurs because a piece of equipment you used was faulty or defective because of poor design or because it wasn’t manufactured properly. Another example may be if you were injured outside the course of your employment. For instance, you may have been at the office picking up a colleague before going to happy hour when you slip and fall on the floor. Assuming that you weren’t drunk or impaired at the time of the accident, it may be possible to pursue a personal injury case.
Should I Get an Attorney?
If you believe that you were hurt on the job, you may want to retain an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. The insurance company that will eventually pay out your benefits may say that the accident did not happen at work while your employer may also challenge that assertion. If this happens, you may need to go before the workers’ compensation board or even to a worker’s compensation court. As this is a formal legal process that may determine whether or not you get paid, it is in your best interest to have legal counsel by your side.
If you have been hurt on the job, you will be compensated for your medical bills and most of your lost wages. However, you will lose the right to sue in court, which means that you will most likely get less than you would if you won a personal injury case.