A worker who is injured on the job may have to make a decision between starting a worker’s compensation case, or filing a personal injury lawsuit. While it is not illegal to try and pursue both, it can become complicated if it is not done properly. Even if you do decide to file both, you need to keep the two cases separate and prepare each case as if it stood on its own.
If you intend to file a personal injury lawsuit, then it is up to you to prove that someone’s negligence caused your accident. It sounds pretty straightforward, but it can get tricky on a job site. Was it something the company did that caused your accident, or was another worker responsible? Did another worker do something because of negligence on the company’s part, or did the worker act alone? You and your lawyer need to look at all of the information to determine if there is negligence and who is responsible.
With a workers’ compensation case, no negligence needs to be established for you to get benefits. If you are injured on a job site for any reason while in the act of doing your job, then you automatically qualify for some level of workers’ compensation benefits. The need to sue to get the benefits you feel you deserve is not part of the personal injury arena.
The Damages You Recover
In a personal injury lawsuit you are entitled to sue for:
- Past and future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Potential permanent disability
- Loss of quality of life
When you file for workers’ compensation, you are entitled to past and future wages, vocational training, and any medical bills associated with your accident. In no situation will a workers’ compensation situation pay for any pain and suffering. The idea that workers’ compensation does not pay for pain and suffering is one big reason why personal injury lawsuits are sometimes part of injuries that come from job site accidents.
Who Do You Sue?
When you do decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, the idea of fault can be complicated. If you sue another worker for their negligent act, does that worker have some kind of insurance that could cover the damages? In these instances, suing a fellow worker may prove futile because you will get nothing in return.
On the other hand, if a judge rules that the company had not part in the negligence that caused your accident, then you may have no choice but to sue the fellow worker and try to get a judgment against them for the amount of the award. Be warned that getting a judgment for payment towards a personal injury lawsuit is not easy.
An accident at a job site can change your life forever. Your injuries could wind up being so severe that you may have to give up your previous occupation and look for a new one. But with workers’ compensation on your side you are all set, right?
Many workers injured on job sites find it necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit to get the full compensation they feel they deserve. While the idea of filing a personal injury lawsuit and taking on a workers’ compensation case is not unusual, it does require an experienced attorney who understands how to juggle both issues at the same time.