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Work Injury Claims: Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury

Employees injured in work accidents may not know they can 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 recover 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.

Need to Know:

  • Workers who are injured on the job typically have two options when it comes to claiming compensation: a personal injury claim or a workers’ compensation claim
  • It is possible in some, but not all, scenarios to obtain benefits through both workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim
  • The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have decades of experience in both personal injury and workers’ compensation law

Regardless of which option is available to you, it is critical that you consult an attorney specializing in the field. With a lawyer at your side, you will be in the best position to protect your rights and maximize your ability to claim compensation.

In This Article:

Compensation for Work Injuries

Workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits are both meant to compensate workers for the damage 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. If you were injured at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, which include medical benefits and indemnity payments. It is very important that you immediately notify your employer about an accident at work and any injury preventing you from returning to work.

Why is it so crucial that you report your injury quickly? Because the workers’ compensation insurance company may deny your claim if they prove that you failed to timely report the accident. The workers’ compensation Law requires you to report the accident within 30 days. Although it is not mandatory, it is best if you report it in writing. It does not have to be a full accident report, but any written proof, such as an e-mail or text message, will certainly help your case. It is wise to consult an attorney who may assist you with filing a claim for the workers’ compensation benefits.   In the case that your employer does not have required coverage, there is an institution known as the “Uninsured Employer’s Fund,” which can assist you in collecting workers’ compensation.

After reviewing relevant medical evidence pertaining to your injuries and degree of disability submitted by both parties, the workers’ compensation law judge will decide at the Workers’ Compensation Board hearing as to the carrier’s obligation to continue payments. Legal representation at these hearings is essential. The workers’ compensation system can be very difficult to navigate, and you want to protect yourself. Without zealous and diligent legal representation, your rights to workers’ compensation benefits may be negatively affected.

A solid workers’ compensation attorney will make sure that medical treatment you need is approved in a timely manner and that you receive maximum payouts so you can provide for yourself and your family while you are not able to return to work. The insurance company will send you for a medical examination with specialists of their choosing. Based on the reports prepared by those specialists, the insurance company will request a reduction or even suspension of your benefits. It is important to note that not every provider in New York state accepts workers’ compensation insurance. Be sure to find a doctor who accepts it and knows the workers’ compensation rules and regulations.

Third-Party Personal Injury Claims

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 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. Workers can not only 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 because 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 prove that negligence played a role in causing his injuries 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 can 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:

  • $53,500,000 jury verdict for a catastrophically-injured construction worker who fell at at the site of a multi-story two-family home in Brooklyn
  • $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.

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