Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Claims — What Employees Should Know
Have you been injured at work? The good news is that as an employee in the United States, you can probably get compensation and benefits by filing a worker's compensation insurance claim. However, why might this be insufficient in your case? And when might you be able to pursue a personal injury case as well? Here's what you need to know.
Where Workers Compensation Can Fail
The workers comp coverage requirements aimed to provide a way for employees to receive medical care and lost wages without having to go so far as to sue their employers. In turn, employers generally receive protection from those lawsuits.
However, workers compensation goals are not the same as personal injury cases' goals. Workers comp is essentially designed to pay for or reimburse the worker for tangible financial loss and for necessary recovery treatment. It does not include things like damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or future earnings — damages commonly calculated in personal injury cases.
How You Might Still Get Personal Injury Compensation
If you can't sue your employer and your workers comp coverage may not be enough, what recourse do you have? One of the best ways to close this financial gap is to consider whether a third party may be liable for some or all of your injury.
For example, a worker driving a company vehicle on company business during their shift is hit by another car on the road. Their workers comp coverage kicks in and helps them get medical care and pays a portion of their lost wages while they recover. However, the other driver may have liability for causing the accident. The worker can often use that third party even though they received some workers comp funds.
Similarly, what if you slipped and fell on a customer's icy sidewalk while delivering goods for your employer? The employer provides workers compensation, as you were doing business on assignment from them, but the homeowner may also be responsible for failure to maintain a reasonably safe property.
Unfortunately, you may not always find it this easy to identify a third party who has liability. They may be a vendor or supplier, the maker of a defective tool or part, a city or county that maintains public property, or even your employer's landlord. A thorough investigation may be necessary.
Where Can You Learn More?
Could you benefit from pursuing a separate personal injury case even if workers compensation insurance is already involved? The answer may be yes. Start by learning more about how state and federal law affects your particular situation. Meet with a criminal law attorney in your state today.