If you suffered a workplace accident and must take time off work to recover, you are most likely considering your legal options for compensation. You may be wondering if you should file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Do you have a choice? Here, we discuss important differences between workers’ comp and personal injury claims and your legal options if you are injured on the job.
Fault in Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Claims
One major difference between these types of claims involves the issue of fault. In a personal injury claim, you would need to prove that your employer’s negligence was the cause of your injuries. If you could not prove that your employer was negligent in some way, you would not have a right to compensation.
Under New Jersey law, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Except for limited situations, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries regardless of the cause of your injuries. This is true even if your negligence caused your injuries. Because workers’ compensation is no-fault, it can be easier to prove your entitlement to compensation.
Damages Are Different in Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims
The compensation you can obtain is different in these two types of claims. In a workers’ compensation claim, the types and amounts of damages are more limited. You would be entitled to payment of your medical expenses, weekly wage loss benefits—which is a portion of your weekly wages—and permanent partial disability or permanent total disability payments. You are not entitled to pain and suffering compensation.
In a personal injury case, you are entitled to be compensated for all of your injuries. This can include more types of compensation such as past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, perks of your job, such as lost vacation and sick time, commissions, bonuses, and promotions, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering. Your claim for compensation could be much larger in a personal injury versus a workers’ compensation case.
Different Laws Apply in Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims
Both workers’ compensation and personal injury cases are governed by New Jersey laws. However, the laws and procedures that apply to these cases are very different. Workers’ compensation claims are based on specific workers’ compensation laws and procedures. These cases are filed in their own special court system. A personal injury case is filed in a civil court. You will need an attorney who is experienced in handling workers’ compensation cases if you need to file a claim so that he understands the laws and procedures that apply to your claim.
How Are Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims Similar?
While workers’ compensation and personal injury cases are very different in some ways, they are similar in other ways. Here are some similarities that injured victims experience in these claims:
- If you were injured, you could have a right to compensation for your injuries.
- Even when your right to compensation is clear cut, you may have to fight to obtain what you deserve.
- You need to document your claim right away, such as filing an accident or police report, taking photographs at the accident scene, and collecting contact information for negligent parties, insurance companies, and witnesses. You also need to keep documentation of your medical bills, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- You need to seek prompt medical care for your injuries. This is true even if you do not believe that you suffered an injury in your accident because the symptoms of some injuries take days or weeks to develop.
- You need to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to investigate your case, file your claim, and negotiate your settlement for you.
If you need to file a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim, Manfred Ricciardelli is here to help. Call my office or start an online chat today to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options.