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Are Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims the Same?

October 20, 2022  ·  By HM&M

Are Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims the Same?

The simple answer is no. Workers’ compensation claims are filed against your employer in a state system usually called an “Industrial Commission.” In contrast, personal injury claims are filed in Court, accusing a defendant other than your employer of negligence. 

Nearly all workers in the United States are covered by workers’ compensation, except for federal employees and some small groups of private-sector employees covered by federal law. You may wonder how you will afford your monthly expenses if you’ve been injured at work, resulting in unpaid leave, termination, or resignation.

There are two options regarding a compensation claim when you’ve been injured at work. However, it’s important to understand which avenue of support is right for you. In some cases, workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim can help the injured party.

This post will explain the difference between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims to help you identify which solution best suits you.

Workers’ Compensation

According to the Congressional Research Service, Workers’ compensation began at the start of the 20th century in response to dissatisfaction with the tort system as a method of compensating workers for occupational injuries. 

There is no federal requirement for states to have workers’ compensation systems or minimum federal standards for state systems. Therefore, workers’ compensation can be different depending on the location of the business. In Illinois, workers’ compensation becomes effective after the third day of injury or illness sustained on the job. 

Four major disability compensation programs are provided to those injured at work. The categories are

  • Wage replacement benefits
  • Medical treatment
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Other benefits 

Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury is defined as an injury to someone by another party’s negligence. If you have been harmed by someone else, regardless of their intent, you have the right to seek damages. 

Damages” is the legal phrase for the remedy. Typically, damages are monetary and intend to make the injured party whole again. These damages can help with the cost of medical expenses, the damage to personal property, the loss of wages or earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of consortium or companionship, and in some cases, punitive damages, which is strictly a punishment if the injury is considered to be especially harmful.

For a personal injury claim, there must be an element of negligence. Whether the negligent party is an equipment manufacturer or your employer, a personal injury attorney will help identify the correct defendant in the claim.

Consider these signs when determining whether you should contact a personal injury attorney. Then, if you’ve elected to schedule a consultation, prepare by creating a list of questions to ask the attorney.

Which Claim is Best For Me?

Consulting with a personal injury attorney is great to start after you’ve been injured. A personal injury attorney can help evaluate the circumstances and in some cases, shed light on additional factors otherwise not considered. For another perspective, review our post, Personal Injury Lawyer: When Do I Need One?

Suppose you’ve filed a workers’ compensation claim. In that case, you should also consult with a personal injury attorney, who may be able to identify a personal injury case against entities other than your employer.  For example, a client was injured while operating a tow truck and lost his eye when the truck hood fell on his head. In addition to the workers’ compensation he received, Hurley McKenna & Mertz brought forth a product liability case against the truck manufacturer, resulting in a $20 Million Circuit Court jury verdict for the injured tow truck driver.  

Personal Injury Attorneys

At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, we offer free consultations to those who have suffered an injury or illness on the job. We pride ourselves on being knowledgeable in this field and have the personal connections and resources to provide expert analysis regarding your case facts.

Our attorneys will not only educate you throughout the process by keeping you informed at every step, but we will also work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

A sample of our successes includes

$20,000,000 | Work Injury | Product Liability

Verdict in a work injury/product liability case [$10 million in compensatory damages, $10 million in punitive damages] against PACCAR, Inc., the manufacturer of Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks, for a man injured at work when the hood of his employer-supplied PACCAR truck unexpectedly blew over onto his head after his truck broke down. Plaintiff lost his right eye in the incident but was ultimately able to return to work.

$1,140,000 | Construction Accidents | Product LiabilityVerdict in a construction accident/product liability case for a carpenter whose index finger was amputated by a defective Delta table saw. A flaw in the extension table caused the piece being cut to jam and force the plaintiff’s hand into the spinning blade. Tried in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.




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