Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP Discusses the Difference Between Personal Injury Cases and Workers Comp Cases
Many people don't know the difference between a personal injury case and a workers comp case. Let's start with some basic definitions. Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, a law firm from New York City, New York says, personal Injury cases are covered by tort law, which is an area of law that deals with civil wrongs or harms not directly caused by criminal activity. Personal injury cases typically involve negligence on the part of another party (such as corporations) to someone who has been injured due to a wrongful act or omission. In contrast, Workers' Compensation can be thought of as "no-fault" insurance for workplace accidents.
Personal Injury Cases
Personal Injury cases can seem complicated, but they are pretty simple once you break them down into smaller pieces. At their core, personal injury cases involve three things:
The incident that caused injury to your person or property
Negligence of another party in causing that accident which resulted in harm to yourself or your property
Damages sustained by that accident
Let's start with an example. You are walking down the street when a car backs out of a driveway without checking to see if anyone is behind it. The car hits you - you are injured and have medical bills for treatment. Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP says the first thing you would do is report this accident to the police department to record what happened (this helps establish evidence in court). Next, you would file a complaint with the other party's insurance company or sue them in civil court if they do not have insurance.
Finally, you would collect any evidence of the accident and your injuries (i.e., police report, medical bills, photos of the property damage).
If all goes well for you, then there is money for your damages and legal fees to be paid at the end of this process.
What Kind of Damages Can Be Recovered in a Personal Injury Case?
When someone is injured in an accident, they can be compensated for many different types of damages. These may include:
Lost wages (past and future)
Medical bills (past and future)
Pain and suffering (past and future)
Property damage (cars, homes, etc.)
Workers' Compensation Cases
Workers' compensation claims are fairly straightforward. If you are injured on the job, then workers' comp will pay for your medical expenses related to that injury and any lost income if you cannot return to work (unlike personal injury law, where you would have to prove that the employer was at fault).
Workers' comp cases are similar to personal injury cases in that people get hurt on the job and receive an injury benefit check from their employer's worker's compensation carrier. However, there are key differences between these two types of cases: most notably, who pays your attorney's fee and how much money you can get. Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP says that in a personal injury case, the other party's insurance company pays your attorney's fees and is responsible for paying all of the damages that you suffered in the accident. This is not true in a workers' comp case - the employer has set aside a certain amount of money each year to pay injured employees a benefit check instead of suing them for their negligence.
In most states, an employee can receive from two to five times their average weekly salary when injured on the job. In some exceptional cases where permanent injuries are involved, benefits may be doubled or even tripled.
The amount of time it takes to settle a claim varies depending on whether your employer's workers compensation carrier wants to fight your benefits or whether they quickly want to settle your claim.
In most cases, a worker who has been injured on the job may receive from two-thirds to all of their lost wages when they have been unable to work due to their injury. In some states, an employee can also continue to receive medical treatment for their injuries under a workers comp case.
There are three types of workers' compensation claims: a formal proceeding before a judge called a "deposition," informal settlement discussions between you and your employer's insurer, and proceedings before a panel of judges with no jury present. The latter is typically used when the insurance company contests your initial request for benefits or files appeals after an administrative law has awarded certain benefits.
What Kind of Damages Can Be Recovered by Workers Compensation?
Although an injured worker can recover damages for pain and suffering, no punitive damages are available in workers' compensation cases. Other types of damages that may be available to you include:
Wage benefits (lost income) if unable to work
Medical expenses related to your injury
If you are permanently disabled because of your injuries, you may also see your benefits increased.
Winning a Personal Injury or Workers Comp Claim?
The best way to determine which type of case is right for you is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer or workplace injury attorney, says Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, who can advise you based upon their knowledge of the laws in your state. An experienced personal injury lawyer will discuss the chances of success with your claim and what kind of benefits you could be entitled to under each type of case.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Suppose you have any questions about the differences between personal injury cases and workers comp cases. In that case, you may also want to consider speaking with an experienced attorney if you need assistance with your legal claim. Workers' compensation claims can sometimes get complicated, so it is best not to attempt filing one without legal guidance.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the management of EconoTimes