Are Workers’ Comp and Personal Injury Claims Actually Different?
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Mon May 2017
- Workers Compensation,
The lyrics of a children’s song say it well. “One of these things are not like the other.” So, how does this actually apply if you or a loved one is injured in an accident? Are there differences between workers’ comp and personal injury claims? And, are they mutually exclusive?
What if we told you they you could pursue a couple of legal actions at the same time? That would surely suggest that something is different between the two. Of course, that only applies if you were injured in the course of your employment.
There’s one other thought for consideration. If you can file a claim for both, can you also make only one? The answer is yes. However, workers’ comp claims are remarkably different than personal injury lawsuits. And yet, somewhat similar.
Workers Compensation Claims
No doubt you have some understanding of the first premise of a workers’ compensation claim. Under Title 34 of the New Jersey State Statutes, you must be in the course of your employment to receive benefits from a workers’ compensation claim.
For the most part, workers’ compensation insurance is the purest form of no-fault coverage. In essence, there is no requirement to prove negligence. The fact that you might be a klutz does not necessarily mean you can’t file a workers’ compensation claim if you trip over your own feet at work.
At times, there may be disputes concerning whether an employee was actually working when they were injured. For example, an injured worker could be denied coverage while on the way work to an office. However, someone else could be considered in the course of their employment if their job required them to drive from one job site to the next. An experienced workers’compensation attorney can help ascertain the feasibility of filing a work-related claim.
Under workers’ compensation law, the claims process is a bit more restrictive than for other accident claims. You are obligated to treat with medical providers referred by the insurance company. Additionally, you will receive lost wage reimbursement from them. You may even be entitled to an award for some portion of permanent disability.
Even so, there’s another item of concern when it comes to workers’ compensation claims. You will not receive monetary damages for pain and suffering or lack of consortium.
One last thing about workers’ compensation claims. In some incidences, you may be able to reopen your case.
Personal Injury Claims
So, what makes a personal injury case different than a workers’ compensation claim? Obviously, there is no requirement that the accident was an on the job injury. Nonetheless, it is requisite to prove that someone else was at least fifty percent responsible for the incident.
You will be free to choice your medical providers unless your case also involves a work injury. Unless your accident was on the job, you might receive temporary disability benefits from New Jersey State Disability or some other source.
When appropriate, personal injury cases allow you to make claims for pain and suffering, as well as lack of consortium. In fact, your spouse may have a right to the latter cause of action.
Most importantly, when you accept a personal injury claim, you agree to close the case forever. If the case goes to trial, the same may be true. Unless, of course, there are legal issues that constitute an appeal and retrial of the matter.
Workers’ Comp and Personal Injury Together
Once again, workers comp and personal injury claims are not mutually exclusively. Here are some examples when the two types of cases may intersect:
- Worker is injured on a defective machine (claim against manufacturer)
- Sales representative is hurt in a car accident while traveling to numerous customer sites
- An employee on a construction site in injured when a worker from another company negligently handles equipment.
Be that as it may, it is important to recognize what happens when there are both workers’ compensation cases and negligence actions. You should read this article concerning the significance of receiving a third party award for a work-related accident.