If you have been injured at work while performing the duties expected of your job, such as during a slip and fall accident, you may be thinking of filing a workers compensation claim to pay for your medical bills and recover your damages. However, did you know that you could also file a personal injury claim, which could result in more favorable compensation?
When a person is injured on the job, many assume that the only way to recover damages from their employer is through filing a workers compensation claim. But in some cases, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim for a work accident as well.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
The main difference between a workers compensation claim and a personal injury claim is proving fault. When you file a claim for an injury that occurs while you are working, there is no obligation to prove that your employer, co-worker or any other party caused the accident that resulted in injury. Instead, you are entitled to receive benefits, even if the injury was your fault in some way.
Workers compensation is meant to protect workers who become injured in any way by allowing them to recover damages if they sustain an injury that would otherwise have not occurred if they had not been working. Settlements for workers compensation claims often come in the form of economic awards to cover costs such as medical expenses, weekly compensation for wages, permanent impairment benefits and vocational rehabilitation.
Personal Injury Claims
While a workers compensation claim involves a specific employer-employee relationship, personal injury claims are not limited to any specific set of people. In fact, anyone who is injured due to the negligence of another is eligible to file a personal injury claim, including workers who have been injured on the job.
However, in order to recover damages for a personal injury claim, you must prove that another person or party was negligent in some way that resulted in an accident which caused your injuries. Unlike workers compensation damages, personal injury damages are compensatory, which can include medical expenses, lost wages and loss of future earning capacity, as well as damages from pain and suffering resulting from the injury.
When Does a Personal Injury Claim Apply to a Work Injury?
A person injured at work may be able to successfully file a personal injury lawsuit when the:
- The injury involves a defective product, which would allow for a claim against the product manufacturer;
- The employer’s conduct was intentional or obviously likely to cause serious harm or death;
- The injury involves a toxic or illegal substance;
- The employer fails to carry workers compensation insurance, or didn’t because they were not technically required to; or
- The injury was caused by the negligence of a third-party that doesn’t work for the company.
Personal injury claims may be a viable alternative to workers compensation claims in instances where you are injured on the job, but not as a result of your employer’s actions. For example, sustaining slip and fall injuries (under premises liability) would hold the property owner accountable for failing to provide a standard of care to ensure that the premises is safe, and that no hazards exist which would prevent needless injury.
In other cases, such as after a car accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the driver responsible for your injuries. Knowing that you have the option to choose which claim is right for you can help in making informed decisions about how you wish to pursue legal action against either your employer or another party.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
At Johnstone & Gabhart, we understand that navigating a claim of any kind can be a long, arduous process. Between insurance companies trying to minimize their liability to defense attorneys arguing for their client’s innocence, handling either a workers compensation claim or a personal injury claim often requires the assistance of a strong legal team in order to maximize the awards you receive for your damages.
To better understand your case and which option is most suitable for your injuries, contact Johnstone & Gabhart today to schedule a free consultation session. With decades of experience in West Virginia personal injury law, we are happy to answer your questions and help you get the compensation you deserve.