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Personal injury and workers’ compensation: What’s the difference?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2023 | Firm News

A workplace injury or illness is never expected, and its ramifications can have you reeling. While you might be left unable to work, which can drastically reduce your income, exorbitant medical costs can come due, leaving you in a financial pinch.

Many individuals who find themselves in this situation ask what legal action they can take to offset their financial losses. Can they pursue workers’ compensation benefits? What about a personal injury lawsuit?

Let’s take a closer look at each so that you know which option is available to you and which one you’re better off pursuing.

The basics of a personal injury lawsuit

In a personal injury lawsuit, you seek to impose liability on an individual, and perhaps their employer, in order to recover compensation from them for the damages that you’ve suffered. In order to win one of these cases, you have to demonstrate that the defendant acted negligently and that their negligence caused the accident in question and thus your injuries.

If you’re pursuing a vicarious liability claim against the defendant’s employer, then you also have to show that the employer had control over the employee at the time and that it was deriving some sort of benefit from the negligent action.

The basics of a workers’ compensation claim

When you seek workers’ compensation benefits, you are simply indicating that you’ve been injured on the job or suffered a work-related illness. You are then seeking compensation from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer.

You don’t have to demonstrate that there was any negligence involved. You just have to focus on showing that the injuries you’re claiming were suffered at work or the illness that you’ve contracted wasn’t pre-existing or was at least exacerbated by your work.

Which option is right for you?

It depends on the circumstances of your case. In most instances, those who have been injured on the job will be better off seeking workers’ compensation benefits because they’re likely easier to obtain. Remember, you’re likely to recover compensation from the workers’ compensation system regardless of how your accident occurred.

Therefore, if you choose to pursue a workers’ compensation case, then you don’t have to worry about finding witnesses who can testify as to the defendant’s negligence and relying on experts to help you prove causation. Instead, you simply need to show that the accident occurred and how your injuries or illness were tied to that event.

Are there challenges with pursuing a workers’ compensation claim?

There could be. For example, your employer may try to argue that your own horseplay at work led to your injuries, therefore rendering you disqualified from receiving benefits. As mentioned above, the insurance company might also try to argue that your injuries or illness existed prior to the workplace incident and are therefore not covered by the workers’ compensation system.

With some strong legal advocacy, though, you may be in a strong position to counter these defense tactics.

Take the legal approach that’s right for you

If you want to secure the resources that you need to offset your damages and support your recovery, then you need to choose the legal avenue that’s best for your circumstances. That