Getting Hurt at Work: Do I File Workers’ Comp or Personal Injury Claim?

workers compensation work injury

Most people do not realize that what workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers do in a courtroom are very similar actions from a legal standpoint.

Workers’ compensation was created in the 1920s to protect workers who were hurt on the job. Workers’ compensation health insurance was a program designed to protect employers and pay the worker’s medical bills, recover lost wages and secure the worker’s job. Like worker’s compensation, personal injury also helps an injured individual pay for medical bills and lost wages, but it also pays for pain and suffering.

The major difference between the two is that a workers’ compensation claim can arise regardless of fault, whereas personal injury requires the fault of a third party. There may be times when it seems difficult for a worker to decide when to sue for personal injury or when to file a worker’s compensation claim.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

A worker can decide to sue a manufacturer instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim when the accident is caused by a defective product or piece of equipment on the job. For example, a worker was working underneath a generator in a power plant.

The worker was wearing a harness, but the harness got caught in the shaft. The injury occurred because there was no safety collar around the flange. The worker can sue the manufacturer of the shaft for product liability (in addition to workers’ comp).

Another example is when if a worker is working on the floor of the waste treatment plant and he stepped on a trap door that sprung open due to a faulty latch, causing the worker to fall through the opening 30 feet to the floor below.

The worker can sue the company that supplied the springs. The company had the wrong springs there, and the construction manager did not take the correct steps to fix the opening of the trap door when he first found out about it. The construction company was found liable.

When you are going to file a personal injury claim, you should find an attorney who specializes in this practice area. The lawyer should be well-versed in torts and have the experience of going up against large corporations.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

There are times when an employee should file a workers’ compensation claim. When on a job site, a worker can fall from a ladder or slip on the floor. There is usually no property damage when this occurs.

For example, a mechanic is walking across a service bay and slips on oil left on the floor from a car that had just driven through it. The mechanic fell and hurt his back. Another example is when a worker is diagnosed with a job-related illness such as mesothelioma and black lung.

When you are going to file a workers’ compensation claim, you will need to find a work injury lawyer, especially one who is local to your area. The lawyer will have an intimate knowledge of workers’ compensation benefits as well as have a thorough understanding of your job responsibilities, company, and workplace safety regulations.

The attorney will also know what to do if your claim is denied or disputed.

Remember, there are time limitations when you are filing a workers’ compensation claim. You should report the accident to your employer as soon as possible and then file the claim. It is crucial to keep in contact with your insurance company for any changes and to ensure the proper steps have been taken. The last thing you want to do is start the process over again due to an error that could have been avoided.

Hurt at work? Don't know what to do? Contact Goldberg & Wolf

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At Goldberg & Wolf, we have helped thousands of workers in New Jersey get the compensation they deserve because we specialize in workers’ compensation law and walk you through each step of the case. Contact us today at (856) 651-1600 if you have questions and need to file a claim.