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The Blurred Line Between Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Claims

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2023 | Firm News |

While the outcome – injuries – is the same, the mechanics of personal injury and workers’ compensation claims represent two vastly different processes. Employees who suffer job-related injuries qualify for benefits via their employers’ workers’ compensation programs. Whereas personal injury claimants look to the party who is at fault for their injuries to recover compensation.

The line between the two blurs when injuries are suffered in a work-related car accident due to another driver, not the employer, acting negligently. Those factors could result in two separate injury-related claims. Our law firm is in a unique position to handle both of these claims, since we not only focus our practice on both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims but also on the interplay between the two, and how to maximize our clients’ benefits and financial recovery.

One such example of how our experience can benefit the client is in our understanding of the lien recovery rights of the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. We are therefore in a unique position to negotiate the workers’ compensation lien, and maximize our clients’ settlements and awards.

Important factors

Unlike workers’ compensation, the key elements of a personal injury, or negligence, claim involve the following:

  • Who had the duty of care?
  • Who breached that duty?
  • Causation, defined as the at-fault party causing the injuries or damages being claimed
  • Pain and suffering and economic damages that are verifiable through medical records, medical bills and other documents.

Workers’ compensation claims differ from negligence claims in that workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system. In other words, employees who are hurt while working are not required to prove that their employer, or any another party, was negligent, or at fault, for the accident. Personal injury require proving that another party was at fault for the accident.

Significant differences

The damages in personal injury and workers’ compensation claims often overlap. However, under the law, they are not identical. One of the critical differences in workers’ compensation claims is that injured employees are not allowed to recover for “pain and suffering.” Personal injury claims, on the other hand, do allow claimants to recover pain and suffering damages, in addition to economic damages such as medical costs, lost wages, future earning capacity, and property damage.

Personal injury claims can often be a long, drawn-out ordeal that sees victims waiting for a significant amount of time to be compensated.  This can be due to the necessity of proving liability- that the other party was at fault. Conversely, the workers’ compensation system is designed to get the injured worker his or her medical treatment and lost wages immediately and while they are treating for their injuries and unable to work temporarily or permanently.  Unfortunately, there can be times when the insurance company is not acting as quickly as they should be, and our firm is there to fight for you and ensure your medical and lost-wage benefits are being paid fully and in a timely manner.

The complexity of both types of injury claims can be discouraging to someone recently injured, whether in a car accident, or on the job. Often the last thing a victim wants to do while recovering is worry about the legal side of things. The skilled and experienced attorneys at Jacobs, Schwalbe, and Petruzzelli can help make this process easier for you while fighting to get you the compensation you deserve.