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By Richard Obiol
Principal Attorney

Facing injuries at work or due to someone else’s negligence can be incredibly challenging. In such difficult situations, it becomes necessary to understand the subtle differences between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims. Let’s explore these distinctions here, so you can better understand your legal options and make the best decisions for your unique case.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

  • No-Fault System: Workers’ compensation operates on a no-fault system, meaning that employees are generally entitled to benefits regardless of who caused the workplace injury. Even if the injury is a result of the employee’s actions, they are still eligible for compensation.
  • Limited Damages: While workers’ compensation provides essential benefits such as medical expenses and lost wages, it typically does not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering. The focus is on providing financial support for necessary expenses associated with the work-related injury.
  • Exclusivity Rule: In exchange for receiving workers’ compensation benefits, employees generally waive their right to sue their employer for negligence. However, they may still pursue claims against third parties whose negligence contributed to the workplace injury.

Personal Injury Claims

  • Fault-Based System: Personal injury claims operate on a fault-based system, requiring the injured party to establish that another party’s negligence or intentional actions caused the injury. This includes demonstrating that the responsible party breached a duty of care owed to the injured party.
  • Full Range of Damages: Unlike workers’ compensation, personal injury claims allow for the recovery of a full range of damages, including economic losses (such as medical expenses, and lost wages) and non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering, emotional distress). The compensation aims to make the injured party whole.
  • No Exclusivity Rule: Personal injury claims are not subject to the exclusivity rule that limits workers’ compensation claims. Injured individuals have the right to sue negligent parties, including employers, without restrictions. This can include cases where a third party’s negligence contributes to the injury.

How Do You Know Which Claim to Pursue?

In determining which type of claim to pursue, there are certain factors to consider:

1. Fault and Liability

Assess the role of fault and liability in the injury. If the injury occurred in the workplace and involves no-fault benefits, a workers’ compensation claim may be the primary avenue. For injuries caused by the negligence of others, a personal injury claim may be pursued.  Importantly, an injury may have multiple contributing causes.  It is important to fully assess all avenues of liability.  Often, we are able bring a liability case against a third party alongside of a compensation case, allowing full recovery from both.

2. Type of Damages

Consider the types of damages you seek. If you are primarily looking to recover medical expenses and lost wages, workers’ compensation may be sufficient. If you wish to pursue compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other non-economic damages, a personal injury claim may be more appropriate.

Understanding the distinctions between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims is pivotal when seeking compensation for injuries. 

The Attorneys at Civardi & Obiol Help Those in New York Who Have Been Injured in an Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it’s crucial to understand your rights and the potential legal remedies available to you. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney can advocate for justice and to hold those responsible accountable. 

At Civardi & Obiol, our qualified New York personal injury attorneys will help walk you through the process every step of the way. We will fight for your rights. To learn more or schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

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