Understanding the Differences Between Personal Injury Cases and Workers’ Compensation Cases • LegalScoops

Personal injury and employee compensation are fundamentally similar. Most of the differences are minimal, with the exception of two: types of compensation available and error requirements.

Personal Injury Law is based on an injury caused to you through negligence. As the injured party, you are entitled to reimbursement of the financial losses caused by your injury. In the event of a work-related injury, Employee Compensation Insurance will pay you the compensation as your employer is legally obliged to insure you.

Both types of insurance offer financial benefits that cover these injuries and ensure that you do not have the financial burden. However, these two systems have some differences:

Identify errors

A key difference between a personal injury and an employee compensation case is that the injuries that occur while doing your job do not require a fault determination. The claim may also include injuries that are not directly related to your work duties.

This can be any type of injury, whether or not your carpal tunnel has been affected by repetitive work-related movements, tripping over a wire, or falling off a ladder.

Any injury at work is therefore covered by employee compensation, even if it is negligent – for example, if you tripped over an exposed cable or abandoned box. This means that for every injury you have suffered at work, you will get your benefits without having to prove someone else’s fault.

This is a cheap system for both you and your employer because you can’t sue the company and they don’t have to get into time-consuming and costly litigation. You will receive your benefits quickly, so that you can cover all medical costs arising from your injury and your free time.

When and whom to sue

In some situations, you can sue others for workplace injuries. In general, you cannot sue an employee or your employer. Sometimes it is your employer and a third party who is to blame for work-related damage. Liability is then placed on that party and you can make a personal liability claim.

An example is when you are working on scaffolding that is breaking. You must prove that the manufacturer was at fault for the faulty construction of the scaffolding and assert a claim for personal liability. However, if you slip and fall or lose your footing, it is usually an employee compensation claim.

Which employees can employers sue?

Nautical craft crew members and interstate rail workers are not covered by workers’ compensation. The Jones Act empowers all crew members who work on any type of boat, be it a small fishing vessel or a cruise ship, to sue their employer for all kinds of damage if they are injured while on the job. This includes everything that is covered by personal injury, even pain and suffering.

The Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA) allows interstate rail workers (and only some commuter rail workers) to sue their employer for compensation for work-related injuries.

Pain and suffering

Another key difference between a personal injury lawsuit and an employee compensation claim is the pain and suffering benefits to which you are entitled.

Benefits that you can receive from employee compensation

There are several benefits that you can recover:

  • All the wages you lost in the time it took to recover from your injury
  • All expenses related to your medical treatment
  • Permanent disability allowance if you are never able to go back to work due to the injury
  • Professional retraining if you cannot return to your position
  • Survivors are entitled to a death benefit if someone dies from injury or illness at work

During your recovery, you are entitled to a maximum weekly payment of lost wage compensation. In most states, it is two-thirds of your loss of earnings. Employee compensation statements are offered either as a one-time flat rate or as a weekly service.

Benefits that you can claim from personal injury

Personal injury claims are aimed at the reimbursement of all damage incurred. These include:

  • loss of earnings
  • Loss of earnings lost
  • Medical expenses (including future)
  • Compensation for permanent depreciation
  • Your pain and suffering
  • Psychological effects on quality of life

Differences between the two:

Workers’ compensation claims do not pay benefits for pain and suffering as this type of claim is based on a compromise between workers and business owners. Before the 20th century, injured workers could only receive compensation for work-related injuries if they sued their employers for negligence. Unfortunately, many employees never sued their employer, but even if they did, they could not get compensation unless they could prove negligence.


Despite their similarities, these important differences can affect your eligibility and there are seldom overlapping coverage issues. A knowledgeable attorney can help if you are unsure how to proceed.

Can you get pain and suffering with Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation claims do not pay benefits for pain and suffering as this type of claim is based on a compromise between workers and business owners.

What is the most common claim for damages on Workman’s Comp?

Stresses and sprains are the most common types of work accidents.

What is considered an employee compensation violation?

An employee injury occurs when an employee is injured in the workplace or suffers from an occupational disease

Can you sue workers for emotional distress?

Any kind of illness or injury caused by the job is subject to compensation. This includes emotional or mental stress caused by your job.

What is a Replaceable Injury?

An injury during the employment relationship is usually covered by employee compensation and is subject to compensation

Can you get workers compensated for a pre-existing injury?

Yes, you can recover from a pre-existing condition. In general, if you have been injured at work and your previous injury has gotten worse, you can recover and cause damage

What does employee compensation not cover?

Workman’s Comp covers injuries that have occurred during your employment relationship, including negligence. However, injuries caused by drugs or alcohol are not recorded

What is a Workplace Injury?

An injury that occurs in the course of employment. This includes everything you do on behalf of your employer. For example, if you were injured playing Frisbee during a holiday picnic, you are covered.

Does employee compensation count as income?

The compensation you receive for employee compensation is usually not taxable at the federal or state level

What three steps should you take if you injure yourself at work?

1. Report the violation and receive a report.
2. Document all important interactions with your employer or their insurance representatives.
3. Get necessary medical care and follow doctor’s instructions.

Should You Hire an Employee Lawyer?

Often times you don’t need one, but make sure you know your rights and obligations. However, if your injuries are serious and not clearly work-related, require significant work stoppage, or your injuries are permanent, then you should definitely consult an attorney

Jacob Maslow

Legal Scoops’ senior editor Jacob Maslow has founded several online newspapers, including the Daily Forex Report and Conservative Free Press

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