Workers’ compensation is not the same as other personal injury claims (like the kind made after a car crash). Workers’ comp is a special kind of insurance that assists injured workers but also protects the employer from personal injury claims. But that raises the question, is it possible to file workers’ comp and a personal injury claim simultaneously?
Workers’ comp protects the employer from liability. In most cases, it does not matter how you were injured at work, be it from a coworker’s negligence or poor managerial direction; workers’ comp limits your ability to file claims against the employer and your coworkers. However, you may be able to file a personal injury claim in addition to the workers’ comp claim if a third party was involved. That’s because workers’ comp protects you from any workplace injury or illness.
For example, say that you’re a delivery driver for a major shipping company. You’re in a car crash and are seriously injured. Not only would you be able to file a workers’ comp claim (since you were hurt while on the job), but you’d also be able to file a separate personal injury claim against a third party (in this case, the driver who caused the crash).
This can apply in various situations where you are injured due to a third party’s negligence while working. It could also apply to situations where you slip and fall on a client’s property, for example. When determining whether you’re eligible for both a workers’ comp and personal injury claim, simply determine whether you were injured by a third party while working. If the answer is yes, there’s a good chance you can make both claims.
In this way, you can pursue additional damages for the same injury because you’re filing claims against separate entities. Because workers’ comp only covers certain kinds of damages, this can make an enormous difference in your recovery.
In very rare cases, you may also be able to file both a workers’ comp claim and a personal injury claim if your attorney can demonstrate that you were intentionally harmed by either a coworker or your employer. However, these instances are far less common than third-party claims.
A Difference in Damages
If your injury makes you eligible for both workers’ comp and a personal injury claim, it’s wise to pursue both. That’s because the two kinds of claims offer very different compensation to help you move forward.
Workers’ comp cases vary, but most cover some combination of 66% of your weekly wages, medical bills, and rehabilitation. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may also be eligible for temporary or permanent disability income benefits, mileage reimbursement, and more.
That said, workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering or mental anguish. These damages are for the psychological trauma and physical anguish that come with an injury, but they are only available for personal injury claims. If, for example, you were in a car crash that resulted in an injury changing your overall quality of life, you might be eligible for pain and suffering damages from the other driver, but not from your employer.
If you do have a claim for both Workers’ Comp and against a third party, the WC carrier may be entitled to subrogation, i.e. reimbursement, for duplicate damages such as medical expenses paid or lost wages paid. However, the WC carrier’s right to subrogation is limited and can be offset by any attorney’s fee you pay. Therefore, it is important to have an attorney that is knowledgeable in handling both WC claims and personal injury claims so you can maximize the damages you can receive.
Talk To an Experienced Attorney
Filing any legal claim is difficult. Filing two claims at the same time can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to focus on your recovery. For that reason, it’s wise for those injured on the job to consult an attorney with experience handling both workers’ compensation and personal injury cases.
Your attorney can handle all the paperwork and phone calls on your behalf, eliminating much of the stress and making the whole process much smoother. When you hire an attorney, you can rest easy knowing they’ll fight for your settlement while you rest and recover.
If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Kentucky workers’ comp attorney who will work tirelessly on your behalf, don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (270) 423-0023.