When to Sue for Workplace Injuries
Learn the difference between personal injury claims and workers comp claims.
Here in California, workers are almost always entitled to compensation for accidents suffered in the course of their job duties. However, this compensation is different from the type of compensation that is available in a personal injury lawsuit. In this blog we will explain the differences and help you understand when it might be appropriate the file both a worker’s comp claim and a personal injury claim.
Workers Comp Offers Limited Compensation
Workers compensation coverage offers a very important safety net for individuals who may become injured on the job. The process is typically much quicker than a traditional personal injury claim, and the burden of proof is lower. The injured employee does not have to prove whose fault their injury was; they must only prove that the injury occurred during the course and scope of their employment.
However, workers comp can provide only three kinds of benefits:
- Temporary Disability payments to compensate for lost wages
- Repayment for all medical bills
- Permanent disability payments in the case of an injury that diminishes the individual’s ability to work in the future
Personal Injury Lawsuits Offer More Possibilities for Recovery
In a personal injury lawsuit, there is a higher burden of proof (in that you must prove the injury was the defendant’s fault) but also a higher potential for recovery, sometimes in the millions of dollars. The main difference is that “general” damages are available in a personal injury case.
General damages cover those aspects of an injury that cannot be quantified with a medical bill or paystub. This includes:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Often, general damages present the best chance of recovering truly fair compensation for an injury, especially when the medical bills were relatively small (such as treatment for a facial laceration) but the injury was painful, the recovery difficult or incomplete, and the entire experience very emotionally distressing.
How Do I Know Which Type of Claim to File?
If you have been injured on the job, you should definitely file a workers comp claim. If the injury was caused by any party other than your employer, you should also at least consider filing a personal injury claim.
Some sample scenarios in which you might have both kinds of claims based on one injury include:
- Getting rear-ended by another driver while out in the company car or truck
- Suffering an injury due to a defective tool or product not made by your employer
- Getting bitten by a customer’s dog while working as a store clerk
For help with a personal injury claim stemming from any type of workplace accident, contact The Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas. We will be happy to provide a free case evaluation to help you decide if you want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in addition to your workers comp claim.