Workers’ Comp vs. Personal Injury Lawsuits—What’s the Difference?
At a glance, personal injury lawsuits and workers’ comp claims seem a lot alike, since they both involve holding someone else liable for the effects of an injury you were not responsible for causing yourself. In practice, though, these are very different cases that require unique approaches to get the best results possible from them. Failing to understand those differences can quickly lead to missing out on much-needed compensation.
One thing that both types of claims have in common is that guidance from a seasoned lawyer at Shook & Stone can be vital to maximizing available restitution and avoiding common legal and procedural pitfalls throughout the process. That said, here is a brief overview of the major differences between workers’ comp and personal injury lawsuits, as you might experience them during each kind of claim.
“Negligence” vs. “Fault free” for Injuries
Maybe the most substantial difference between workers’ comp claims and personal injury lawsuits is the basic legal principle they are based around. Workers’ comp insurance coverage is built around a fault-free system. Generally, if the injured worker was within the course and scope of their employment, the employer assumes medical care and compensation for specific losses caused by any on-the-job injury or illness suffered by a covered employee.
Personal injury lawsuits, on the other hand, are generally built around the legal theory of “negligence,” which does not hold people involved in an accident automatically liable for any losses caused by that accident. Instead, liability belongs to whoever directly caused the accident—and injury—by violating a “duty of care” they owed to the injured person, such as the obligation all motor vehicle drivers have to follow traffic laws and pay attention to their surroundings while driving.
Different Deadlines for Starting a Claim
Another big difference between these two cases is how long you have to formally begin the claims process. While the exact deadlines may differ from company to company and between different workers’ comp insurance providers, you must notify your employer within seven (7) days. Notify your employer of a work-related injury or illness as soon as possible after sustaining it. You must file a claim within ninety (90) days in Nevada.
Conversely, you have anywhere from one to five years after you first sustained your injury to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court, depending on what state you are filing in and sometimes what type of accident led to you getting hurt. Do not waste that extra time, though—you will likely need most or all of it to collect all the necessary evidence to establish someone else’s “negligence” and get paid what you deserve.
Broader Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury lawsuits are generally more complicated and challenging than workers’ comp claims in many situations, but that additional difficulty can pay big dividends if you build and file a strong case. Through a successful personal injury lawsuit, you can demand compensation for the full value of all your injury-related losses: both economic and non-economic forms of harm, as well as losses you have not actually suffered yet but can expect to deal with in the future because of your injury.
By comparison, workers’ comp claims only cover certain economic losses from a work-related injury or illness—66 2/3% of the average monthly wage., and possible permanent partial disability benefits if your injury or illness causes permanent harm.
Enlist the Help of One of Our Capable Attorneys Today
Whether you believe you have a valid workers’ comp claim or a viable personal injury lawsuit, retaining a skilled attorney to help guide you through the legal process is a good idea. Contact one of the knowledgeable lawyers at Shook & Stone today for a free consultation and case review.