Workers compensation and personal injury

Workers Compensation Law

  • Workers compensation law only applies to workers who are hurt on the job. 
  • Workers compensation benefits are available to an injured worker without regard to who, if anyone, was at fault in causing the injury. 
  • So long as the employer makes workers compensation benefits available to the injured employee, the employer can not be sued for personal injury or wrongful death damages; workers compensation is the exclusive remedy available to an injured worker. 
  • A worker hurt on the job by someone other than the employer or a co-worker can pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Workers compensation benefits are limited to medical expenses, disability payments and retraining benefits.  All of these benefits have specific limitations.
  • Workers compensation cases are filed with the Workers Compensation Board and are decided by the board if the employer's insurance company and the employee can not agree.

Personal Injury Law

  • Personal injury law (including wrongful death law) will apply to anyone who is hurt due to the actions or inactions of others. 
  • In order to recover personal injury damages, the injured person must "prove" that the other person was negligent, that the negligent act caused damages and the amount of the damages which resulted from the negligent act. 
  • The injured person under personal injury law is to be "made whole".
  • Under personal injury law, there are many "defenses" available to a defendant which may protect if from paying damages caused by its actions. 
  • Defenses available in personal injury cases are not available to the employer in a workers compensation case.
  • Personal injury cases are filed in court and decided by a jury if the parties can not settle the case between themselves. 

This is just brief summary of a few of the major differences between Workers Compensation and Personal Injury law.  How these differences may apply to a particular injury case can only be assessed by an experienced injury attorney.