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When an employee is injured on the job, the remedies available to him may include workers’ compensation and/or a personal injury lawsuit, but many people do not understand the difference between the two.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers compensation is an insurance policy administered by the workers’ compensation boards of individual states. Under workers’ compensation law, benefits are available to a worker who is hurt on the job, and no proof of fault needs to be made for benefits to be paid. All that must be established is that the injury occurred on the job and is connected somehow with the work the employee performed.

Under workers’ compensation, an injured employee receives non-taxable income equivalent to about two-thirds of their average wage on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. They also receive medical care for their injury, compensation for a permanent injury, and reimbursement for any necessary job retraining. In exchange for these benefits, the employee gives up the right to sue the employer for personal injury, except in very specific circumstances.

Personal Injury

Personal injury lawsuits are not limited to any specific class of people, and anyone who is injured due to the negligence of another may bring a personal injury lawsuit. But to recover damages, the injured party must prove that another person was at fault, or negligent, and caused his injury. The injured party, or plaintiff, must also show proof of all harm and the damages that resulted from the injury, and requests payment from the defendant to “make him whole again.”

These damages are compensatory, and usually include property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity. If applicable, plaintiffs may also demand damages for pain and suffering resulting from the injury. There are many defenses, or arguments, available to the defendant that may protect him from having to pay damages, including contributory negligence, comparative negligence, and assumption of the risk.

So Which Should I File When?

Generally, a worker injured on the job will file a workers’ compensation case, although sometimes, it might be in their best interest to litigate the matter. It is important to note that workers’ compensation was established to protect both the employer and the employee, and to eliminate the need for litigation, but injured employees need to understand their rights to initiate a personal injury lawsuit outside of the workers’ compensation system.

Nathaniel Fick
Fick & May Law Firm
Contact Niel


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