To the uninitiated, a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim may look the same, which is quite understandable because both are about compensation for injuries. However, the two are not exactly the same; there are differences between them. The main difference is that fault (on the part of the defendant) is required in a personal injury case, while it is not required in a workers’ compensation case. Let’s examine the differences in more detail.
1. Fault is required in a personal injury case.
Personal injury cases apply to injuries sustained anywhere, any time and in any context due to the action or involvement of another person. In other words, someone must be at fault. For example, if you slip and fall while shopping in a mall, you cannot recover damages unless you can prove that the owner of the mall was negligent in the maintenance of their property. Similarly, if you were injured in a car accident, you cannot recover damages if the other driver was not at fault. Talk to a personal injury attorney for more detailed information.
2. No fault is required in a workers’ compensation case.
Workers’ compensation cases apply to injuries sustained in accidents arising out of or in the course of the injured person’s employment. There is no need for the employer or the owner/operator of the workplace to be at fault. If you are injured while operating a machine or simply slip and fall while at work, you will be eligible for workers’ compensation. You do not have to prove that your employer, co-worker or anyone was at fault.
3. Damages are all inclusive in a personal injury case.
In a personal injury case, the injured person is entitled to recover all of the damages he or she has suffered due to an accident, which include medical bills, future medical expense, lost wages, future loss earning capacity, permanent disability, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. Of course, you’ll have to back any damages you claim with evidence.
4. Damages are not inclusive in a workers’ compensation case.
In a workers’ compensation case, the injured person is not entitled to recover all of the damages he or she suffered. Specifically, he or she is not entitled to pain and suffering. The compensation available to injured workers include weekly wages, medical bills, permanent impairment benefits, and vocational rehabilitation. It does not include any other damages.
5. You can sue anyone in a personal injury case.
In a personal injury case, you can sue any individual or entity that was responsible for the injuries you have sustained. If you were hit by a cyclist, you can sue the cyclist. If you were injured in a car crash, you can sue the other driver. If you slipped and fell and got injured in a restaurant, you can sue the restaurant owner.
6. Workers cannot sue their employer or co-worker.
The workers’ compensation laws are a compromise between business owners and employees. Business owners agreed to provide weekly benefits, medical bills and a few other benefits to workers injured in the course of their employment while workers agreed to give up their right to sue their employer. Before there was workers’ compensation, injured workers usually got nothing unless they sued their employer for negligence and won.
7. Some workers can sue their employer or co-worker.
While workers’ compensation laws specifically forbid workers to sue their employer, there are exceptions. They include interstate railroad workers and crew members of vessels, such as a commercial fishing boat and cruise ship. The only recourse they have in case of a work injury is to sue their employers for negligence, which becomes a personal injury case.
The Champion Firm is a full-service personal injury law firm serving the greater Metro Atlanta area. Our award-winning team of attorneys specializes in car accidents, wrongful death, premises liability, and slip-and-fall cases. Learn more about our team here.