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Should I File a Workers Comp or Personal Injury Claim?

I was injured at work. Can I also file a personal injury claim?

Have you been injured at your workplace or while performing your work duties, such as a slip and fall? If so, you may be thinking of filing a workers compensation claim to pay for your medical bills and help to recover your damages. However, did you know that you can also file a personal injury claim, which may provide you with better compensation than workers’ comp?

Generally, workers assume that when they are injured at work, the only option they have is through workers’ compensation; but in some situations, it’s possible to file a personal injury claim  for a work accident as well. Many believe that this is considered ‘suing’ your boss, when in reality a third party may be responsible, such as the owner of the building. In this scenario, the third party’s insurance would be responsible for handling the cost of their safety shortcomings. Here we have provided information about which claim option would work best under particular circumstances:

Workers’ Compensation Claim

The main difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury is proving fault. When you are injured at your workplace or off-site while carrying out work-related tasks and decide to file a workers comp claim, you don’t have to prove that your employer, co-worker, or any other party caused the injury. Instead, you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits even when the injury was your fault in some way.

This is exactly what this type of coverage is for. It’s meant to protect workers who become injured in any way, since even if the injury was their fault, they would not have been injured if they were not on the job working for someone else. If you decide to go with workers’ compensation, you will not receive anything outside of economic costs, for example pain and suffering, but you may recover damages such as medical expenses, weekly compensation for wages, permanent impairment benefits, and vocational rehabilitation.

Personal Injury Claim

The difference between a workers’ comp claim and a personal injury claim is that the latter are not limited to any specific set of people (i.e. workers). In fact, anyone who is injured due to the negligence of another is eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit, including workers. But in order for an injured worker to recover damages through this more broad route, they must be able to prove that another person or party was at fault or negligent, and caused the injuries. (Notice how this is different from a workers compensation claim in which the injured person doesn’t need to prove fault or could be the one at fault themselves.

Unlike workers comp damages, personal injury damages are compensatory, which can include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and damages for pain and suffering resulting from the injury. Notice how workers comp does not allow for this non-economic area of recovery.

What are some instances when a personal injury lawsuit applies to work injury?

A person injured at work may be able to successfully file a personal injury lawsuit when the:

  • injury involves a defective product, which would allow for a claim against the product manufacturer;
  • employer’s conduct was intentional or obviously likely to cause serious harm or death;
  • injury involves a toxic or illegal substance;
  • employer fails to carry workers comp insurance or didn’t because they were not technically required to;
  • injury was caused by the negligence of a third-party that doesn’t work for the company.

Examining a Common Work Injury: Slip and Fall

A slip and fall incident is actually directly categorized as a premises liability claim, which is a type of personal injury claim based on the defendant slipping or tripping on the property of another and, as a result, suffering some sort of injury.  Someone who incurs an injury due to the negligence of the property owner in question is entirely entitled to compensation for their sustained damages from the accident.

Liability for slip and fall injures may arise based upon the defendants control or ownership of the premises where the injury occurred.  For example, if a company rents their building for office space but does not own it, they still might be at fault for any and all accidents that occur due to safety violations; which would be under their jurisdiction at the time of the incident in accordance with their exclusive control of the interior of the rented property.  Whereas the buildings actual owner or landlord may be responsible for any bodily harm that comes from a slip and fall related injury that occurs outside the premises, such as injury from a trip and fall on the sidewalk or the parking lot.

Lack of negligence is the main bargaining chip in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a slip and fall claim. Simply, the insurance company will argue that their client was not responsible for the incident that caused the injury.  In addition, they can claim that they were not negligent in creating the hazard before the injury occurred and that they exercised due diligence and reasonable care in lessening or dealing with all dangers that could cause injury.  Instead, it’s common for the defendant to attempt to spin the narrative in order to place the wounded at the center of their own misfortune by claiming that the person was responsible for their own injury.

Car Accidents While Working

A good example of when a personal injury claim may be a good option after a work injury is with an auto accident. If you were driving for work when you were injured, you may be able to file a claim against other parties that were responsible for the accident. For example, if you are driving a delivery truck when you are struck by a drunk or distracted driver, you can file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.  This scenario allows for you to file both a personal injury and workers’ compensation claim.

This is not to say that it’s easy to get compensation from multiple parties, because it’s not. However, you have a right to know that there are other option out there for you when you are injured on the job. As someone who risks your safety everyday for your employer, knowing how you can recover costly damages may be the difference between financial ruin and complete recuperation.

Work Accident Claims Require an Experienced Lawyer

Navigating the legal mazes that crop up when one has to deal with a work accident claim can prove almost impossible without an experienced personal injury lawyer at your side. Insurance companies have all kinds of strategies they like to employ to make sure they pay the least amount possible to a plaintiff. Don’t try to fight a battle against a company with way more resources and experience without getting some of your own so that you can secure the settlement that you deserve.

To better understand your case and which option is the most suitable for your situation, contact Dolman Law Group with one of the options below or email me at Jack@dolmanlaw.com to evaluate your legal options.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. You can reach us in one of these 4 ways:

  • Call Dolman Law Group at (727) 451-6900
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Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765

For much more in-depth information on workers comp, click the link below: