Workers Comp and Personal Injury: Understanding the Difference

Injuries can be difficult to define, and it can be hard for people to agree upon both the event in question and the outcome it deserves. Fortunately, we have laws in this country that help settle the debate. However, claims can be filed without employers even realizing that the actual information itself is suspect. Here's what you need to know about personal injury and a workers compensation claim so you don't confuse the two.

Personal Injury

Anyone injured due to a 3rd party may be able to file a personal injury claim. Not only can you file for the direct costs of the physical damages, but also for emotional distress as well.

Workers Comp

Workers comp is any injury suffered while on the clock. Those who successfully file a claim generally receive direct costs and possibly disability payments, as well as a potential final settlement in severe cases.

Burden of Proof

The extent you need to produce proof of your claim is different depending on which type you file. For a 3rd party personal injury claim, the injured will need to show there was negligence on the other person's part as opposed to their own personal mistakes. Workers compensation is generally easier to have approved - even when employers can show the employee was not performing his or her job correctly at the time of the incident. While each state has its own laws and each person has their own interpretation to the laws, these are guidelines to keep in mind.

When Worlds Collide

Sometimes there are cases where a 3rd party causes injury while on duty. In this case, it becomes harder to determine how the case is filed. Because workers comp doesn't cover any type of emotional damages, the injured can file both claims. However, this is where it gets complicated. Employers may pay out right away to a workers comp party but if the personal injury suit is approved, they may be able to recoup their costs based on the 3rd party settlement. Employees are not supposed to double dip essentially into both the pockets of their employer and the directly responsible party. Lawyers and courts will handle the negotiations in different ways, so having a person on your side who knows the law inside and out is your best bet for this complicated situation.

Keeping Everything Straight

No matter what type of situation you're involved with, you need to keep clear documentation for the lawyers involved. For this case especially though, there will be plenty of questions about the facts. If you want any hope of recovering the money, then you'll need the evidence to back everything up.
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