You’ve probably heard the terms “personal injury” and “workers’ compensation” before. Even if you’re not a lawyer, you might have seen commercials where a law office mentions those expressions.
Personal injury and workers’ comp can relate to one another, but they’re not the same. If you or someone else hurts you at work, you will need to know exactly what each term means. We’ll take a few moments and explain both of them right now.
What exactly is personal injury?
Before we get into the difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury, we will define each term. Personal injury means a physical injury. Your body sustains injury rather than reputation or property.
Personal injury is a legal term. That is why you’ll often see commercials for a law office that specifically describes the attorneys working there as personal injury lawyers. Some law offices only do personal injury lawsuits since those happen often and are potentially very lucrative.
When you hear the term “personal injury” describing a lawsuit, that’s probably a tort lawsuit in a common-law jurisdiction. The person bringing the suit feels they can hold someone else responsible for the harm they suffered.
What is workers’ compensation?
Now, on to workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is an insurance variety. In almost all cases, an employer needs to have it. If they fail to carry it, and a worker hurts themselves, that can cause the employer all kinds of legal problems.
This insurance exists to provide the injured person with wages while recovering from the hurt they sustained. It should also cover any medical benefits they need.
A person can apply for a workers’ comp claim and get it if they injured themselves while on the job. In other words, if you’re at your job, and you slip on a spill and hurt your back, that would be a clear workers’ comp instance. If you’re at home on your off day, and you fall off a ladder and hurt yourself, you probably cannot claim workers’ comp for that.
In some instances, you might claim workers’ comp, even if you’re not technically at work. For example, maybe you’re driving a company vehicle, and a car hits you from behind. You suffer whiplash. You ought to be able to file a workers’ comp claim since you were only driving that vehicle for your job.
If you are new to it and don’t know how to apply for workers’ compensation benefits, read this guide here as it covers various points that will help you.
How do these two tie in together?
Once you comprehend what these terms mean, it’s easy to see how one can lead to another. If you hurt yourself, that’s personal injury. A broken arm is a personal injury, as is a concussion or a sprained ankle.
You can get workers’ comp if any of these things happened when you were at work. If you’re at home when you hurt yourself, though, you can’t hope to file a workers’ comp claim and win. That would not be fair to your employer and the insurance company that provides the coverage.
You should also know different states have different workers’ comp requirements. Just about every company needs to have workers’ comp insurance, but some states require employers to have different dollar amounts of it.
Proving what happened
There’s one more way workers’ comp and personal injury tie in together. In both instances, you’ll need to prove what occurred if you hope to collect any financial compensation.
For example, if you hurt yourself outside of work and you want to sue someone for negligence, you need to prove that some action that they took, or didn’t take, led to your injury. Maybe if someone didn’t shovel the sidewalk in front of their house, and you slipped and fell on the ice, you could sue that person for negligence.
If you fell at work and hurt yourself, you might have to prove that you didn’t injure yourself at some other time and in some other place. You might rely on witness testimony to establish what you say happened. If no one saw what occurred, maybe you can find video evidence if there were security cameras nearby.
If you hurt yourself at work, some states also have no-fault workers’ compensation. That means even if you did something irresponsible, like drinking on the job and hurting yourself, you still get workers’ comp.
Other states don’t have no-fault workers’ comp. That means if it turns out that you hurt yourself because of something egregiously wrong that you did, the insuring company might not need to pay for your medical bills and downtime.