As an injury law firm, we focus on two main types of injury cases – personal injury lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims. On the surface, it may seem obvious that workers’ compensation claims provide compensation for injuries that occur at work, whereas personal injury lawsuits arise when you are injured in your free time, but they are a little more nuanced than that. Below, we really dive into the basics of and the distinctions between personal injury claims and workers compensation claims.
Work Comp Vs. Personal Injury
Arguably the biggest difference between these two types of lawsuits, and the biggest point of contention when working with the insurance company to collect compensation, revolves around fault. In a workers’ compensation case, you do not need to prove fault or negligence. Since workers are a protected class, you only need to prove that your injuries were a direct result of your work duties in order to be entitled to fair compensation for your injuries. You may be able to earn more compensation by proving that your employer’s negligence caused your injuries, but it certainly isn’t necessary.
In fact, in a workers’ compensation case, you can be the sole party responsible for your injuries and still be legally eligible for compensation, so long as you didn’t intentionally injure yourself. For example, if you were reaching for something on a ladder and lost your balance, there’s really nobody else to blame other than yourself for your injuries. However, if you were on a ladder performing work duties when the accident occurred, you would be protected and eligible for compensation. You can be the cause of your workers’ compensation injuries and still receive compensation in Minnesota.
The same cannot be said for personal injury lawsuits. When it comes to a personal injury lawsuit, you must showcase that another party’s actions or negligence directly contributed to your injuries. You must prove that they have the majority of fault in the situation, otherwise you will not be eligible for compensation. We use the term “majority” because oftentimes personal injury cases are viewed through the lens of what’s known as comparative fault. This means that each party is assigned a fault percentage, and this impacts how much money you can collect for your injuries.
For example, let’s say you were deemed to be 20 percent at fault for the car accident where you incurred $10,000 worth of medical expenses. You would be able to collect up to 80 percent of the medical expenses since the other party was 80 percent at fault, meaning you would be eligible for $8,000 in compensation. So long as the other party is at least 51 percent at fault in the situation, you can collect compensation. It’s also not uncommon for the other party to be found 100 percent at fault for your injuries, like if you are rear-ended at a stoplight by someone who was texting and driving.
Finally, the other big difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury compensation is the type of damages you can collect. In a workers’ compensation claim, you can usually be compensated for three main types of damages – medical expenses, lost wages and vocational benefits like retraining or education expenses if you can’t return to the same job after your injuries. In a personal injury case, you have more compensation options. You can collect compensation for economic damages like medical bills, lost wages and property damage, and for non-economic damages like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life or loss of consortium. While it’s helpful to have a lawyer in your corner for both of these lawsuits, it can be especially helpful when working to put a fair value on non-economic damages that don’t come with an invoice like many economic damages do.
If you want assistance filing or collecting compensation for a personal injury or a workers’ compensation claim, look no further than the team at Margolis Law Firm. Give Dean Margolis and the team a call today at (952) 230-2700.
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