Personal Injury Vs. Workers’ Compensation Claims


A co-worker accidentally spilled a harmful chemical at work. Perhaps you got badly burned by the chemical. Maybe you slipped and fell because of the spill. Is this a personal injury or a workers’ compensation claim? Which type of claim would you pursue in each situation?

Deciding the correct claim to file can be challenging. A few key differences separate these two claims from each other. But, these two areas of law can overlap in some places as well. This article will help clarify those differences.

There’s a Difference in Scope

Workers’ compensation claims have to do with workplace injuries only. Maybe you slipped and fell at your workplace. It’s a personal injury lawsuit, right? How sure are you that it shouldn’t be a workers’ compensation claim? Perhaps it’s even both. Why not contact a lawyer immediately and know for sure? For more information.

Personal injury law is broader in scope than workers’ comp law. It covers a wide range of accidents and injuries. It does not limit itself to a specific category of people or injuries only occurring in the workplace. Examples of personal injuries are: slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, dog bites, assault, and auto accidents.

Cases Get Resolved Differently

Nearly 96 percent of all personal injury cases in the U.S. get settled pretrial. Only about four percent proceed to trial. Of these, 90 percent don’t succeed. Perhaps it’s best to work with a good lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases.

Most workers’ compensation cases get resolved in one of two ways. One may voluntarily settle with the workers’ compensation insurance company, or such claims can also get resolved after a workers’ compensation hearing.

Do You Need to Prove Fault in a Workers’ Compensation Case?

No. In such a case, the injured party doesn’t need to prove the other party was at fault. What matters is the event happened, and one party sustained injuries. The worker must show that the incident occurred at the workplace while they were in the act of performing their job duties.

They also must prove that the harm suffered was work-related. If a worker violated safety regulations, the issue of fault determination might arise.

In a personal injury case, the injured party must prove the other party was at fault. They must show the other party’s negligence caused the accident. Good lawyers help their clients prove that the defendant was at fault.

How are the Damages Different?

In a workers’ compensation claim, you can get compensatory damages for lost earnings. You can also get benefits for permanent impairment and medical expenses. You should fight for rehabilitative service benefits, too.

Rehabilitation enables you to return to work. It can also help retrain you for a different career. Typically, you’ll get payments weekly.

However, you can’t recover punitive damages in a workers’ comp claim. Nor do you receive compensation for pain and suffering. Aside from that, you’ll likely pursue compensation within certain limits.

Personal injury cases, in contrast, allow you to pursue compensation for pain and suffering. In personal injury claims, you can also recover damages for lost income as well. Also, personal injury cases let you recover exemplary damages in some instances.

Typically, the plaintiff gets a lump-sum payment rather than periodic payments. In 39 U.S. states, plaintiffs in personal injury cases face no caps on compensatory damages. An additional four states found the caps unconstitutional.

A Personal Injury Claim Follows a Different Process than a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Your employer provides the necessary forms, which you should fill out, for a workers’ compensation claim. The employer submits the forms to your state’s Workers’ Compensation Agency. Their insurance company also gets informed. Some states treat this as the beginning of the claims process.

In such states, you don’t need to file with your state’s Workers’ Compensation Agency. However, you should file if your claim has failed or if you wish to appeal the decision.

The process in a personal injury case is different. Filing a third party claim against the insurance company of the at-fault party is where it starts. Get the other person’s policy number and insurance carrier’s name.

Send the insurance company a notice of claim. The notice includes the incident’s date, the insured’s information, and your own information as well. The company should know you were injured, and they must understand you intend to pursue compensation.

If this process fails, file a lawsuit in civil court. Be sure you understand your state’s statute of limitations.

Does Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim Against Your Employer Affect Your Right to Sue?

Yes. Filing a workers’ compensation claim against your employer prevents you from suing them. Typically, you cannot exercise your right to sue after you have filed for workers’ comp. You’ll also forfeit that right if you’ve started collecting compensation.


Confusing workers’ compensation and personal injury claims is easy. The two categories of cases are different in various areas. However, they also share some aspects. Was it a slip and fall accident? Did you sustain injuries while operating a machine at work?

You should know the correct claim to file. To make sure you have the right information,it’s  best to work with a workers’ compensation or personal injury lawyer.