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Injuries that occur during working hours are filed under workers’ compensation or a personal injury depending on various factors. For example, a slip and fall at the workplace can either be entitled to a workers’ compensation or a personal injury suit depending on the condition.
Workers’ compensation generally covers specific conditions or injuries which must clearly be described under the work contract.
A worker though, cannot claim a personal injury lawsuit against the employer or any employee, after filing for workers’ compensation claim. But, in certain compensation claims, there might be a third party entailed in the injury or accident. These typical cases are known as combination cases.
If the injury or accident was due to the negligence of the third party, the worker may file a case of personal injury against the third party. A third party is an individual who is not related to the employee’s job, however, may be liable for the employee’s injury.
An example of third-party liability
John is employed with a pizzeria; he is required to deliver pizza to different customers within the town. While he was in his vehicle delivering pizzas, he was hit by a negligent car driver. John suffers serious injuries including a slipped disc, a broken leg and a broken wrist. He is injured and unable to work for several days due to this.
Since John sustained these wounds and damages during the course of his work, he must get workers’ compensation. He must receive compensation for his medical bills and lost wages from his employer. Also, he can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver who is the third party in this case. Along with getting compensation for sufferings and pain, the claim would also cover the expenses of the damaged property.
A few Differences between workers compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits
Fault: While workers’ compensation can be claimed even when the employer is not at fault, there must be someone at fault or liable in order to file a personal injury lawsuit. Mostly, personal injury lawsuit involves some sorts of negligence. Comparatively, workers’ compensation includes particular injuries even when the employer was not at fault.
Right to Sue: Officially, an employee cannot claim a lawsuit against the employer after filing for workers compensation. Thus, the employee surrenders his/her right to sue the employer if already filed for or in the process of collecting workers’ compensation for a particular injury.
Damages: A personal injury claim entitles the employee to all forms of injuries or damages the employee undergoes. However, the employee doesn’t get compensation for pain and sufferings in workers’ compensation cases.
Payment: While a lump sum amount may be paid in personal injury cases, worker’s compensation entails periodic or weekly payments in most of the cases.
Hence, it is important that someone must be at fault or negligent, in order to claim damages for a slip and fall, car accident or any type of negligence claim.
Liens on injury awards
If one succeeds in receiving the personal injury claim, he/she may receive compensation for the damaged property, pain and injury. The employee will also be entitled to receive compensation for medical bills, his/her lost time at work and other damages as deem fit. The employee, who has already received medical bills and wages under workers’ compensation, may be required to reimburse a portion of personal injury award to the workers’ compensation carrier. This portion usually would be 2/3 of the workers’ compensation claim amount.
However, the portion may vary from state to state. This is called a lien. A lien is an order by court placed on the personal property of one party for satisfying balance or debt owed to a third entity or person.
While accidents can take place anywhere, you must immediately consult an attorney or personal injury lawyer, if you sustain an injury due to the negligence of third-party during your work. Along with getting the workers’ comp, you may be successful in getting a better award more than just compensation money, if you file for personal injury lawsuit. However, you must also be able to identify the exact party liable for the injury.