After an injury at work, it’s natural to wonder what happens next. While you may have heard the terms “workers’ compensation” and “personal injury” before, understanding the difference between the two types of claims will be important as you weigh your legal options.
To help answer these complex questions, the South Carolina workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys at Stewart Law Offices have put together the following information for you.
Is Workers’ Compensation Considered Personal Injury Law?
No. Workers’ compensation and personal injury are two separate areas of the law.
The workers’ compensation system is designed specifically for injured employees. A successful workers’ comp claim can pay medical bills, provide partial wage reimbursement, and supply other benefits to employees who are injured in workplace accidents.
By contrast an individual could file a personal injury claim for many different types of workplace accidents. Auto accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice, and defective products cases are all examples of personal injury claims.
People who are injured in workplace accidents are typically unable to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. However, there are times when a workplace injury can result in a personal injury claim. Because the lines can get blurry, the best way to find out your legal options is by consulting with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney.
No Fault in a Workers’ Comp Claim
One major distinction between a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim surrounds the issue of fault.
If you’re injured on the job, you may obtain workers’ comp benefits regardless of who is at fault for the injury. Not so in a personal injury claim — you can only recover compensation if you can prove that someone else’s negligence caused your injury.
Different Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
The types of compensation you are able to collect are also different when comparing personal injury and workers’ comp claims.
In a workers’ compensation claim, your employer’s insurance company will provide payment of your medical bills, a percentage of your lost wages, and disability benefits while you recuperate.
However, a workers’ comp claim will not pay for pain and suffering or provide for punitive damages against a party for especially gross misconduct. Those types of damages can be sought in a personal injury claim, along with coverage of medical expenses, lost income, and more.
Are All Work Injuries Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Not every injury that occurs at work will be covered under the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. For example, insurers may refuse to pay if they believe the worker deliberately caused their injuries or was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
There are other times when a workers’ compensation claim is legitimate, but a worker also has a valid personal injury claim. These are known as third-party claims because they are filed when someone else (not the employer) causes an injury. For example, if a warehouse worker is injured by a piece of defective equipment, he or she could file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer that created the faulty equipment.
How Can Stewart Law Offices Help Me?
Need help figuring out whether you have a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim? Talk to the experienced attorneys at Stewart Law Offices today. Our law firm is staffed with accomplished personal injury lawyers and workers’ compensation attorneys who can advise which type of claim might be appropriate for you.
Call or contact us today for a free consultation.