How is Workers’ Compensation Different from a Personal Injury Claim?

construction workers

You suffered a serious injury at work. Now what? Do you have the right to the same compensation you would receive for any other type of personal injury claim? Workers’ compensation works a little differently than filing a personal injury claim. As a result, you may find the process a little different if you need to seek compensation for serious injuries outside of work.

1. In a workers’ compensation claim, it doesn’t matter who was at fault for the accident.

If you suffer a serious injury at work, it doesn’t matter who caused your accident. You don’t have to find a way to blame your workplace or prove that your company put you in unnecessary danger in order to receive compensation for your injuries. It does not matter if a customer caused your injuries or if you made a mistake that caused your accident–though if a customer or defective product caused your accident, you could have grounds for a personal injury claim and should consult with an attorney. Instead, if you were on the clock at the time of your accident, performing work-related duties, you have grounds to receive workers’ compensation while you heal from your injuries.

2. A workers’ compensation claim covers specific elements of your financial needs.

When you file a personal injury claim, you can file for coverage for your medical expenses, your pain and suffering, and your lost wages during your recovery. Workers’ compensation, on the other hand, does not include funds for pain and suffering for your injuries, though you can claim pain and suffering as part of a personal injury claim associated with your injuries. Workers’ compensation typically covers:

  • Your medical expenses.
  • 2/3 of your lost wages. In Minnesota, this includes a maximum of $1,046.52 and a minimum of $130 per week.
  • Mileage to and from doctors’ appointments.
  • Help receiving training for a new job if your injuries prevent you from returning to your former profession.

3. When you file a workers’ compensation claim, your workplace or the insurance company may require you to use a specific provider or pool of providers.

When you have serious injuries due to an accident resulting in a personal injury claim, you have the right to choose any hospital, doctor, or physical therapist you like throughout the course of your recovery, though of course, you may prefer a medical provider covered by your personal health insurance company, especially since it may take time to receive the funds from your personal injury claim.

An injury at work, on the other hand, may mean that you need to use a specific provider or pool of providers to use your workers’ compensation benefits. Many insurance companies have a limited number of providers to choose from, often providers who offer a discount on their services to provide the best possible arrangement for the insurance company. If you choose to visit another provider to take care of your injuries, you may need to cover those bills yourself. Some companies, for example, may require that their workers start with a visit to a specific on-site clinic.

If you believe that the provider the insurance company sends you to isn’t offering the right assessment of or treatment for your injuries, you do have the right to a second opinion. Work with your HR department to learn how to arrange and pay for an office visit for a second opinion as well as any procedures recommended by another doctor. If you find that another provider identifies different injuries or treatments than the provider recommended by the insurance company, contact an attorney to learn more about what actions you need to take next to ensure that you get the best possible treatment for your injuries.

4. Workers’ compensation usually pays your medical provider directly.

When you have an accident resulting in a personal injury claim, you bear ultimate responsibility for your medical bills. From your emergency room visit to your physical therapy, you will provide the doctor with a copy of your medical insurance information and take personal responsibility for medical bills acquired because of your injuries. Once you receive a settlement or damages awarded by the court, you will then use those funds to pay for your medical bills.

When you file a workers’ compensation claim, on the other hand, the workers’ compensation insurance company usually pays the provider directly. You won’t have to worry about juggling bills and making sure everything gets paid, because the responsibility will rest with the insurance company, not with you. Your company’s workers’ compensation insurance will take care of any reasonable medical treatment required to recover from your injuries. If your company refuses needed treatment or does not offer coverage for treatment that you need, contact an attorney as soon as possible to discover what you need to do next in order to receive that treatment.

5. If you file for workers’ compensation, you may give up your ability to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Some victims of workplace accidents may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against their employer, especially if the injury occurred as a direct result of safety violations in the workplace and while performing expected job responsibilities. Filing for workers’ compensation, however, can leave the victim unable to file a future personal injury lawsuit against the company. If you believe that you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against your company, consult with a lawyer before signing the paperwork for workers’ compensation or filing a workers’ compensation claim.

When you suffer injuries in an accident at work, follow your company’s procedures carefully. Always fill out an accident report as soon after the accident as possible, since this can provide valuable evidence about how and when your injuries occurred. Do not leave the workplace without filing an accident report unless you need immediate medical attention. Before signing the paperwork to file a workers’ compensation claim, however, talk with an attorney to learn more about your rights and responsibilities. Contact us as soon as possible after your accident for a free consultation to learn more about workers’ compensation and how it differs from a typical personal injury claim.