When it comes to workers’ compensation and personal injury cases, there are some key differences that injured workers must know.
1. Who Pays?
In a workers’ compensation claim, the employer (or their insurance company) is responsible for paying compensation. Conversely, in a personal injury claim, the at-fault party is responsible for paying damages.
What is a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Workers’ compensation is a system of insurance that provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job. Benefits can include medical expenses, income replacement, and death benefits. Workers’ compensation is typically mandatory in most jurisdictions, meaning employers must provide coverage for their employees.
In some cases, employees may be able to elect not to receive workers’ compensation benefits and instead pursue a personal injury claim against their employer.
2. What’s the Difference in Benefits?
Workers’ compensation claims typically provide for four types of benefits, including:
- Medical, including the cost of hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, medication, and more
- Income including lost wages
- Death, including financial assistance to surviving family members
- Job retraining or rehabilitation to help injured workers return to work after they’ve recovered from their injuries
Personal injury claims, on the other hand, can also include pain and suffering damages. These are not available in workers’ compensation claims.
Were you hurt on the job?
You must seek medical attention as soon as possible and notify your employer of the injury if it occurred on the job.
3. How Do They Determine Fault?
In workers’ compensation claims, fault is not a factor. As long as the injury happened at work, the employer is responsible for paying benefits.
The opposite is true in a personal injury claim. Fault must be proven to recover damages in a personal injury claim.
How do you do this?
The most common is through eyewitness testimony, which can be provided by either the injured party or by witnesses who saw the accident happen. Other ways to prove fault include through photographic or video evidence, or through the testimony of experts who can offer their opinion on what happened based on their training and experience. Occasionally, the at-fault party admits they caused the accident by apologizing or admitting they made a mistake.
Whatever means you use to prove fault, it is important to present the evidence clearly and concisely so that the court can determine who is at fault.
4. How Do They Calculate Damages?
In workers’ compensation claims, benefits are typically calculated based on the severity of the injury and how long the worker is expected to be out of work. In personal injury claims, the court bases damages on many factors, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
5. How Do I File a Claim?
You file workers’ compensation claims with the Workers’ Compensation Board. You file a personal injury claim in court.
In both cases, it might be a good idea to retain the assistance of an attorney. This way you’ll have legal protection and know someone is looking out for your best interest.
Were you injured at work? Are you unsure whether you should file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim?
We can help.
To schedule a consultation to discuss your case with an experienced workplace injury attorney or if you have questions about workers’ compensation claims in Maryland, contact Shugarman & Mehring at 410.783.4200 or toll-free at 888.342.7200.