Here’s the main difference between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits:
- Workers’ compensation is offered through your employer. It lets you recover your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages if you suffer an on-the-job injury.
- A personal injury lawsuit is one you or a lawyer initiate. You file a lawsuit against the party that hurt you. Here, you can recover medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
In some cases, people can file workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits. This can admittedly get complicated. That’s why it’s important to consider partnering with an injury lawyer in Georgia.
What You Need To Know About Workers’ Compensation and Injury Lawsuits
Consider the following:
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Workers’ Compensation Only Covers On-the-Job Accidents
A workers’ compensation claim allows employees to process injury claims through their employers rather than file third-party claims. However, they can only file this type of claim if they got injured while doing their job.
They can still file for benefits regardless of where the accident happened. So, for instance, if a delivery driver had a traffic accident while making deliveries, they would still be covered by a workers’ compensation claim.
Personal Injury Lawsuits Cover a Wider Range of Accidents
On the other hand, personal injury claims and lawsuits are not limited to whether you were hurt at work or not. Keep in mind that you typically cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer for work-related injuries – unless the employer was grossly negligent or intentionally harmed you.
Workers’ Compensation and Injury Lawsuits Come with Different Deadlines
The State Board of Workers’ Compensation notes that you generally have one year to file your workers’ compensation claim. This deadline does not apply to injury lawsuits.
If you suffered harm due to another party’s negligence, you typically have two years to file your lawsuit, per O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.
In either case, if you don’t file your case within the allotted time period, you would lose the right to seek compensation.
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You Can File a Workers’ Compensation Claim and an Injury Lawsuit
If a third party caused your work accident, you can file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. Consider this scenario. You were wearing protective gear while working on a construction site.
Yet, the protective gear failed, causing you harm. Here, you could file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer (since you were hurt on the job) and a product liability lawsuit (since another party’s negligence harmed you).
Fault Matters in Personal Injury Cases – Not Workers’ Compensation Cases
Georgia personal injury lawsuits use a modified comparative negligence rule to determine the amount you can recover. If you are found partly liable, your total damages will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. Yet, if you caused most of the accident, you cannot recover damages.
Meanwhile, a workers’ compensation claim is a no-fault claim. So, you could get covered for your work injuries regardless of who caused the accident. Some exceptions apply, however. For instance, if your employer accuses you of intoxication while on the job, this could bar you from seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
You Can Recover Different Damages in Both Situations
As noted, workers’ compensation covers your medical bills and two-thirds of your average weekly income. In some situations, you can recover additional losses if you suffer a long-term disability or lost a loved one.
Personal injury lawsuits don’t have these limits. You can recover everything related to your injuries, including:
- Healthcare expenses, both past and future
- Lost wages, tips, and other employee-related benefits
- Pain and suffering and inconvenience
- Disability, scarring, and disfigurement
- Property damage costs
- Funeral expenses (if you lost a loved one)
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional trauma
- Rehabilitative care
- Psychological counseling
When you partner with a lawyer, they can assess what you can recover and pursue them accordingly.
Both Cases Have Different Filing Procedures
In a personal injury lawsuit, you must file your case in the county where the accident occurred. The local civil court will preside over the suit.
Meanwhile, workers’ compensation claims get handled by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). You may also request a hearing from the SBWC if you did not receive workers’ compensation benefits after filing a claim.
Explore Your Options with Our Georgia Injury Team Today
Workplace injuries can be costly, but you have the right to seek recovery for your losses. If you are unsure whether to pursue a workers’ compensation or personal injury lawsuit, consult with Bader Scott Injury Lawyers.
Our attorneys have handled both workers’ compensation and injury cases throughout Georgia since 2008. We can help you understand the relevant laws to your accident and help present your claim properly with your employer or the court.