An individual who is injured on the job may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Laws vary from state to state. The following discussion is a general overview applicable in most states. You should conduct independent research to be sure important differences do not apply to your case.
Workers’ compensation pays the medical bills and lost wages of individuals injured or killed in the course of their employment. Workers’ compensation is administered under a no-fault system, so it is not necessary to prove that the employer was at fault for the injury.
There is a tradeoff for receiving benefits without having to prove negligence. You cannot sue the employer for compensation for pain and suffering. Thus, workers’ compensation cases differ from ordinary injury cases in two respects:
- In a non-work injury, you must prove fault to collect; workers’ compensation does not require proof of fault.
- Your clients can collect for pain and suffering in non-work accidents; with a work injury, they cannot.
There are exceptions to these rules. If the employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you can sue the employer for pain and suffering. If the injury at work was caused by some individual or company other than the employer or a co-worker, you can pursue both workers’ compensation benefits from the employer’s insurance and pain and suffering damages against the individual or company that caused the accident. However, to collect for pain and suffering, you must prove fault against this individual or company.
Your involvement will also differ. In non-work accidents, the personal injury attorney hopes to get involved with the case at the very earliest opportunity so that an investigation of the accident can be completed. In workers’ compensation cases, the individual can generally pursue the claim without the services of an attorney. It is only necessary to retain an attorney when the claim is denied.
The workers’ compensation attorney generally receives 20% of the benefits paid. In non-work accidents, the personal injury attorney generally charges at least 33.3% of the settlement or verdict.