Personal injury and Workers’ Compensation claims are not at all similar and require different kinds of expertise. However, in certain situations, such as a car accident that happens in the course of work, the employee may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits and also have grounds for a personal injury claim based on negligence. Legal options may also include an FMLA claim, a disability claim, a medical malpractice claim should complications from treatment arise, and a product liability claim if the car had a defect that caused the accident. Understanding the differences can be critical to choosing a good injury attorney who can help you file a successful claim.
Perhaps the biggest difference between personal injury and Workers’ Compensation is the issue of negligence. A Workers’ Compensation claim does not deal with negligence or fault, whereas in a personal injury claim, it must be proven that the defendant had a duty of care that was breached, and that this negligence caused damage to the plaintiff. Insufficient evidence to prove any of the four elements (duty, breach, causation, and damages) means the plaintiff will not be able to recover any compensation.
Although a Workers’ Compensation claim does not need to involve negligence, the claimant must show that the accident that caused the injury occurred while in the course of employment and was work-related. Wage-loss benefits for the claimant are then determined by the extent of the disability.
Both types of claims are filed to recover compensation for economic losses, but a personal injury claim can recover damages not available for a Workers’ Compensation claim. These include damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and punitive damages. If applicable, the plaintiff may also be awarded damages for future injuries or losses. All the different elements are combined into a single award or settlement.
Workers’ Compensation claims can provide several different benefits to the claimant, depending on their situation. Generally, all medical bills that are necessary and reasonable are covered if they are related to the work injury. Lost wages are also compensable and are paid according to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. If applicable, benefits for loss of limbs or disfigurement are available. Partial or total disability benefits may be paid on a temporary or permanent basis.
Personal injury claims that cannot be settled go to trial and are heard by a jury. If successful, the court awards a one-time payment at the end. The plaintiff may not sue again for additional damages, even for issues unforeseen at the time of trial.
Workers’ Compensation cases may involve two to five separate hearings over six to eight months by a judge. Each judge has their own rules and schedules set within bureau guidelines. After the final hearing, it may take months for the judge to issue a decision. Benefits may be ongoing, creating the need for ongoing petitions to the court regarding the claimant’s need for care.
If you have been injured in a work-related accident, the skilled Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. can assist you with excellent legal representation. Our dedicated team will work to recover the maximum compensation available in your case, including third-party personal injury claims. Call 800-243-6095 today to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. We are conveniently located in Pittsburgh serving clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including the areas of Allegheny County, Washington County, and Lawrence County.