Workers’ Compensation in a Nutshell
If you are injured on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Laws vary from state to state. The discussion that follows is the general view of most states, but you should consult an attorney in your area to be sure no important differences apply to your case.
Workers’ compensation pays the medical bills and lost wages of individuals injured or killed in the course of their employment. It is not necessary to prove that your employer was at fault for the accident, because workers’ compensation is administered under a no-fault system.
The tradeoff for receiving benefits without having to prove negligence is that you cannot sue your employer for compensation for your pain and suffering. Thus, workers’ compensation cases differ from ordinary injury cases in two respects.
- In a non-work-related injury, you must prove fault to collect, while in workers’ compensation you need not prove fault.
- You can collect for your pain and suffering in non-work-related accidents, but you cannot when you are injured at work.
There are some exceptions to these rules. If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you can sue your employer for your pain and suffering. If your injury at work was caused by some individual or company other than your employer or a co-worker, you can collect workers’ compensation benefits from your employer’s insurance. At the same time, you may still have a lawsuit for your pain and suffering against the individual or company that caused the accident. Your attorney’s involvement will also differ, depending upon whether your injury occurred during the course of your employment. In non-work-related accidents, the personal injury attorney hopes to get involved with the case at the very earliest opportunity so that a prompt 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 when the claim is denied that it is necessary to obtain the services of an attorney.
The workers’ compensation attorney generally receives 20% of the benefits paid. In non-work-related accidents, the personal injury attorney generally charges 33 1/3 % of the settlement or verdict.