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Work Injury Claims: Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury

Employees who are injured in work accidents may not know that they are able to obtain compensation for their injuries to help cover their medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses. In fact, there are two different ways that injured employees can obtain compensation for their damages, depending on the circumstances of their accident: workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. Both can help workers who have been injured on the job, but it is important to know the differences between the two.

Compensation for Work Injuries

Workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits are both meant to compensate workers for the damages incurred after they have been injured on the job. The main differences between the two are the types of damages workers can claim, and whether negligence played a role in causing the accident. More details on both types are below.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is an insurance program (often run by the state) that provides financial benefits to workers who have been injured on the job. It covers the cost of their medical expenses while they are recovering, and often also provides compensation for lost wages while the employee is unable to work. If the employee is disabled from work, either temporarily or permanently, workers’ compensation programs will also often provide disability benefits. Unless the benefits are for a worker who has suffered a serious injury and is permanently disabled from work, typically workers’ compensation is only temporary and lasts as long as it takes for the worker to fully recover, or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).

Any worker who is an official employee (not an independent contractor) and has been injured while performing their work duties has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. It is possible that a worker’s claim may be denied, but the worker always has the right to appeal a denied claim. Additionally, it is important to know that workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that whether or not someone’s negligence caused the accident (the worker, the employer, or another third party like a contractor or property owner) does not factor in; the injured employee can file a workers’ compensation claim regardless of negligence. This is true even if the worker’s own negligence contributed to causing the accident.

To sum up: as long as a worker was injured while carrying out job-related tasks and is an official employee, he can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are limits to the damages he can claim and how long he will receive benefits.

Third-Party Personal Injury Claims

A personal injury claim is a civil lawsuit filed by an injured plaintiff against a defendant whose negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The key difference between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim is that in order to file a personal injury claim, another party’s negligence must have played a role in causing the worker’s injuries. For example, if a worker simply tripped over his own feet and fell while on his work site, he likely could not file a personal injury case, since there was no negligence involved in the accident. He could, however, file a workers’ compensation claim for his injuries, since he was hurt while on the job.

Personal injury claims also offer more in terms of compensation for damages than workers’ compensation claims. Not only can workers sue for past and future medical expenses and past and future lost income, they can also make a claim for damages such as the pain and suffering they experienced as a result of the accident, their loss of enjoyment of life due to their injuries, and rehabilitation costs if needed. Essentially, filing a personal injury claim gives the injured worker a chance to be fully compensated for all the ways, past and future, that their work-related injuries have caused them to suffer and altered their life.

It is important to note that the no-fault system of workers’ compensation also means that employees cannot sue their employers, even if the employer’s negligence caused the accident. However, if there were other parties whose negligence contributed to causing the accident (known as a third party, other than the employee and employer), it is possible to bring a personal injury claim against them. Examples of third parties can include a contractor, a work site owner, or an equipment manufacturer, among others.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, a work accident lawyer can help you sort through your options for obtaining compensation post-accident, whether it is assisting with filing or appealing a workers’ compensation claim, or filing a personal injury lawsuit. Call 212-736-5300 to speak to a qualified work accident lawyer today.

Can You File Both Claims at the Same Time?

It is possible to obtain benefits through workers’ compensation and file a personal injury claim simultaneously. This depends on the circumstances of each case. In order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits and file a personal injury lawsuit, the following must be true:

  • The injured worker must be able to prove that negligence played a role in causing his injuries in order to have a valid personal injury case.
  • The injured worker must be able to prove that a third party other than himself and his employer acted negligently and caused the accident. Employees cannot sue their employers in personal injury cases if the employer has workers’ compensation insurance.

It is important to note that most workers who are injured on the job are able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, but not all of them can file personal injury claims. Additionally, in some states there are limits to the amount of benefits workers’ compensation programs will award you if you are also filing a personal injury claim. Navigating the workers’ compensation claims process can be confusing, and made even more complex if you try to factor in a personal injury lawsuit. In order to see if you have a valid personal injury case, you should consult a work accident attorney.

Work Accident Lawyers Helping You File Work Injury Claims

The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have extensive experience helping employees who have been injured on the job obtain the maximum compensation they are entitled to through workers’ compensation claims and third-party personal injury cases. We have recovered well over 100 results exceeding $1,000,000 for injured workers.

Select third-party work accident case results include:

  • $15,000,000 wrongful death settlement for the wife and five children of a 38-year-old HVAC technician who died from his injuries after he was struck by a 28,450-pound falling object while on the job
  • $12,000,000 settlement for a union worker who fell 40 feet down a ventilation shaft on his job site while trying to stabilize a crane basket
  • $11,500,000 settlement for a worker who suffered multiple lacerated tendons and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome after his wrist was struck by a defective saw
  • $11,000,000 settlement for a worker who became permanently disabled from construction work after he fell three stories when he stepped on an unsecured hole cover on his work site
  • $10,875,000 verdict for a 35-year-old union worker who fell off the roof of a building he was working on and was impaled by unguarded steel rebar, leading him to suffer severe internal injuries
  • $10,500,000 wrongful death settlement for the surviving family of a union laborer who was struck in the neck by a defective saw that kicked back
  • $7,400,000 settlement for a worker who fell from the roof he was working on, causing him to suffer injuries that required surgery and an eventual spinal cord stimulator implant
  • $7,300,000 settlement for a construction worker who was injured when a steel beam fell on top of him, causing him to lose his right arm
  • $7,000,000 settlement for a 25-year-old carpenter who suffered a facial fracture and the loss of teeth after he was struck in the face by a five-pound falling object on his work site
  • $7,000,000 settlement for a worker who fell 30 feet down an elevator shaft while carrying out his job duties, resulting in serious injuries that required nine surgeries and left him with limited mobility
  • $6,783,881 verdict for a 35-year-old laborer who fell and was impaled by a piece of vertical rebar, leading to gastrointestinal injuries and back injuries that required spinal fusion surgery
  • $6,500,000 settlement for a mechanic who suffered a permanent partial disability, preventing him from returning to work, after he fell 18-20 feet from the roof he was working on

If you have been injured in a job-related accident and are unsure what to do, the work accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are here to help. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an attorney today. We serve New York and New Jersey.