Feb 20, 2024

Understanding Workers’ Comp vs Personal Injury

Hansford McDaniel – Workers’ Compensation Attorneys is a skilled team of workers’ compensation attorneys with more than 60 years of collective experience serving the Atlanta, GA area. Our compassionate, seasoned lawyers provide counsel to clients who have suffered personal injuries or are entitled to workers’ compensation. 

Photo of an Injured Worker

The Difference Between a Workers’ Compensation Case vs Personal Injury Case 

A workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim both involve injuries, but they differ in how they’re handled and the circumstances under which they arise. 

Workers’ compensation claims typically apply when an employee suffers a workplace injury. Workers’ Compensation provides medical treatment, partial compensation for lost wages, and rehabilitation services to employees who are injured or become ill due to their work. In exchange for these workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers generally give up their right to sue their employer for negligence. We encourage you to explore the benefits of workers’ compensation insurance.

Different from workers’ compensation claims, personal injury lawsuits arise from injuries caused by the negligence or intentional actions of another party, like car accidents, slip and fall incidents, or medical malpractice. The injured person (the plaintiff) may pursue compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering through a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party (the defendant). 

While a workers’ compensation claim is typically handled through an administrative process governed by state laws, personal injury claims are litigated in civil court. Each type of case has its own set of rules, procedures, and standards of proof. 

The Importance of Legal Representation in Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims

An injury lawyer is crucial for both worker’s compensation claims and personal injury claims for several reasons. Determining the true value of a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim requires an understanding of various factors, such as the how and where the injured employee was hurt, future medical expenses, workers’ compensation laws, and potential lost earning capacity in the case of permanent impairment. Both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims involve complex legal procedures, paperwork, and deadlines, and many individuals don’t fully understand their rights or the options available to them. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can navigate these complicated processes, ensuring that all necessary documentation is filed correctly and on time.

Workers’ compensation claims are sometimes denied by employers or their insurance carriers, while personal injury claims may face challenges from defendants or their insurers. A skilled attorney can advocate for the injured party’s rights, challenge denials or disputes, and represent them in hearings or court proceedings, if necessary.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Cases

When an injured person is deciding between pursuing a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit, several factors should be considered. First, the type and severity of the injury plays a significant role in determining the appropriate course of action. A workers’ compensation case typically covers injuries sustained in the course and scope of employment, regardless of fault. It is important to note that independent contractors may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Personal injury cases, on the other hand, involve injuries caused by the negligence or intentional actions of another party.

In a personal injury case, injured parties may be able to recover compensation for various types of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. Workers’ compensation benefits typically cover medical treatment, partial wage replacement, and rehabilitation services, but may not include compensation for pain and suffering or other non-economic damages.

In workers’ compensation cases, injured employees generally give up their right to sue their employer for negligence in exchange for receiving benefits. However, if a third party (someone other than the employer) contributed to the injury, the injured worker may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against that party, as well.

The legal procedures, deadlines, and burdens of proof differ between the two types of cases, so it is essential to understand the requirements and potential challenges of each.

How to Choose the Right Attorney

Choosing the right attorney for your workers’ compensation or personal injury case is critical to ensuring that your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation. Here’s how you can find proper representation: 

  • Research attorneys who specialize in workers’ compensation or personal injury law. Look for lawyers or law firms with a strong track record of success handling cases similar to yours. You can use online resources, such as legal directories, review websites, and bar association websites. You want an attorney who has a deep understanding of the relevant laws, procedures, and strategies specific to your type of case. 
  • Testimonials, reviews, and references will help you gauge an attorney’s reputation, and whether or not they’re right for you. Always check if the attorney has any disciplinary actions or complaints filed against them.
  • Schedule initial consultations with a few attorneys to discuss your case. Most offer free or low-cost initial consultations where you can meet with them, discuss your situation, and ask questions about their experience, approach, and fees. Use this opportunity to evaluate the attorney’s communication style, responsiveness, and willingness to listen to your concerns. You’ll also want to discuss the attorney’s fee structure to ensure it aligns with your budget and expectations. Many workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case and receive a percentage of the compensation awarded. Make sure you understand the attorney’s fees and any additional costs associated with your case before making a decision.

If you have been injured on the job, dealing with the aftermath can be overwhelming and stressful. At Hansford McDaniel – Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, our supportive, experienced legal team will provide peace of mind and alleviate the burdens associated with pursuing a claim. We help people file a workers’ comp claim after a catastrophic injury, paralysis injury, heavy equipment accident, construction accident, back injury, and much more. Contact us today for a free case review, where we’ll determine the most appropriate course of action for your situation.