Difference Between Personal Injury and Workers' Compensation

doctor looking at a brain scan

For many individuals who sustain an injury for the first time while on the job, the aftermath can often be a confusing experience. For example, you might be wondering how you can obtain compensation to cover the costs of your medical bills and lost wages from having to take time off from work. The answer to this is through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, regardless if negligence was the cause of the incident that led to your injury. In fact, fault is a key element that distinguishes the difference between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim.

Fault in a Personal Injury Case

If you fell on someone else’s property and sustained an injury because it was not properly maintained, this would be an example of a personal injury case. The property owner was at fault for the injury you suffered because he or she negligently maintained the property, which means you would be able to hold him or her liable. Similarly, if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a negligent driver, you could also hold the at-fault driver liable for your injuries and obtain fair and just compensation to cover your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Essentially, for you to have a valid personal injury case, there must be an at-fault party and you must have suffered an injury that required medical treatment.

No Fault in a Workers’ Compensation Case

Unlike a personal injury claim, fault is not necessary for a workers’ compensation claim. Regardless if an employer or a worker did anything to contribute to the incident that led to the injury, the injured employee would be able to recover these crucial benefits. There are a few exceptions, of course. If a worker sustained an injury on purpose or was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she would likely be unable to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Difference in Damages

Of course, another one of the biggest differences between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim is in the damages one can collect. If you were to win a personal injury case, you would be able to recover a vast range of damages, including lost earnings, lost earning capacity, future medical expenses, medical bills, permanent impairment, pain and suffering, and more, depending on the details of your case and the severity of your injury.

On the other hand, in a workers’ compensation case, you would only be able to receive permanent impairment benefits, weekly compensation, medical bills, and vocational rehabilitation, depending on the severity of your injury. You will not be able to obtain any benefits for pain and suffering in a workers’ compensation case. If your employer harmed you on purpose, this would be one of the rare circumstances in which you would be able to file a personal injury claim. This is a rare exception, however. Since the nature of the workers’ compensation system eliminates fault and negligence as a factor when it comes to obtaining benefits, it also largely eliminates a worker’s ability to sue an employer.

Personal Injury Attorneys in Pennsylvania

If you were injured due to the negligence of another party, you have a right to pursue fair and just compensation. At Metzger Wickersham, our firm has been fighting on behalf of the wrongfully injured since 1888 and, throughout the years, has continued to provide personalized counsel, special attention, and successful results. You should not have to suffer in silence. Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to discuss the details of your case.

Get started today and contact us at (888) 286-2850 to request your free case review with one of our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys.