Choosing Between Workers’ Compensation and a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When you suffer an injury in the workplace, you basically have two different options available to you — either file a workers’ compensation claim or file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer or the liable party in your injury. Your choice depends on a variety of factors, and it’s important that you have an understanding of the fundamental differences between a workers’ comp and personal injury claim.
The biggest difference between the two is that personal injury lawsuits are based mostly on a person or entity being at fault for the injury, while workers’ compensation claims are not. To recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit, you must be able to prove negligence on the part of whoever you believe to be responsible for the accident that caused your injuries.
For example, just because you were injured by a piece of machinery at work does not necessarily mean that your employer or the manufacturer of the machine was negligent. Perhaps you were using the machinery incorrectly or it was a simple accident, in which case you would file a workers’ compensation claim. On the other hand, if you can prove that the machinery was malfunctioning and there were no reasonable attempts made to repair it or keep it in good condition, you may have a case for negligence.
Workers’ compensation is completely unrelated to fault or negligence. Even if your own negligence caused your injury, you could still be eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits so long as your injury occurred in your workplace. Although you will not receive additional damages (such as for pain and suffering) that you would in a personal injury case, you would still receive appropriate compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation and retraining expenses.
For further guidance on whether you should file a personal injury claim or seek workers’ compensation benefits after a serious injury, speak with an experienced Orange County attorney at Tous Law Group.