While workers’ compensation and personal injury both involve physical injuries, the two have different fault requirements and avenues of compensation. Here, attorney Jeffrey Scholnick, explains how the two are different, and how to determine which applies to your claim.
To file a personal injury claim, the victim must prove that a third-party was at-fault for their injury: meaning that the third-party did something wrong, which caused the accident and resulting injury to happen. If an accident is unavoidable and no one is directly at fault, a personal injury claim cannot be brought to court. It is also important to note that Maryland is a contributory negligence state, meaning that a plaintiff who even slightly contributed to their own injury cannot receive damages from a third-party, even if that third-party was mostly responsible. It is important for personal injury victims to keep this law in mind when deciding whether or not to file a personal injury claim.
No fault is necessary to file for workers’ compensation. Whether an injury is caused by an accident, or even the negligence of the victim, workers’ compensation will cover the economic losses of the victim. Because of this, workers who file for workers’ compensation are rarely able to sue their employers for negligence.
Avenues of Compensation
A personal injury victim is able to sue a negligent third-party for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are tangible expenses resulting from the injury, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage and any other tangible losses. Non-economic damages are not tangible, and essentially place a value on the pain and suffering of a personal injury victim. Non-economic damages compensate for loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of intimate relationships, emotional trauma, future pain and suffering and any permanent injury.
While workers’ compensation will cover economic damages, as well as future wages lost and vocational rehabilitation, workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering, and those who apply for workers’ compensation cannot sue their employer for any kind of non-economic damages, unless their employer intentionally caused harm or engaged in major misconduct. It is important for victims of job-related injuries to keep this in mind when applying for workers’ compensation, and consult a workers’ compensation attorney should they believe their accident was caused intentionally or by gross misconduct.
Some cases can be both Personal Injury Claims and Workers’ Compensation claims
Sometimes a claim can be both workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim. For example, you are driving for work, you are stopped at a red light, waiting for the light to turn green and you are hit from behind by a negligent driver. You can first collect workers’ compensation and then proceed against the driver who hit you. However, since your employer did not cause the accident, you will have to reimburse the workers’ compensation insurance company a portion of the settlement or verdict that you receive from the at fault party. This is required by law, and can be complicated to resolve, even for experienced attorneys.
Let Scholnick Law Fight for Your Rights
Whether a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim is the best choice for your situation, you’ll need a skilled attorney adept at handling the process to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. At Scholnick Law, we work hard to ensure victims of negligence and job-related injuries receive justice in court, and are not ignored or undervalued by insurance companies. An injury is stressful enough—lessen the burden of filing a claim by hiring legal representation. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, we urge you to contact us today!