If you’ve been injured on the job, you might be wondering whether to go through workers’ comp or file a personal injury claim. There are a lot of things to consider, so it might be wise to speak to a lawyer before you proceed to understand your legal rights. Here are some things that could come into play.
Are You Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Although most work-related injuries should be eligible for workers’ comp, there are times when you may not be eligible for benefits. If you are classified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, workers’ comp may not pay. Your employer may have opted out of workers’ comp in your state or is exempt from participating. If you aren’t eligible for benefits, a personal injury claim may be your only option.
Do You Need More Care Than Workers’ Comp Allows?
Workers’ compensation benefits are often limited by state statutes. For minor injuries, the system works fairly well, paying out medical bills and a portion of lost wages while you get back to full duty. If your injuries are severe, these short-term benefits may not be enough. You may want to consider a personal injury claim.
Who Is at Fault?
Workers’ compensation claims are no-fault claims. That means that it doesn’t matter who was to blame for the accident. Personal injury lawsuits rely on fault. You need to prove that someone else is to blame for the injury. You may have a stronger workers’ compensation claim if the injury really was an accident instead of negligence. In most cases, if you have a workers’ comp claim, you can’t sue the employer in a personal injury claim.
That doesn’t mean you can’t sue other people. You may not be able to sue your employer, but you could sue the property manager or building owner if you were injured on the property while working. If you were driving for your employer and in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you could potentially sue the other driver or the driver’s employer.
What Types of Benefits Do You Qualify For?
Workers’ comp and personal injury claims are completely different entities. Workers’ comp might be limited, but you won’t have to wait for months for your personal injury claim to go through the process. You may even be able to file both types of claims.