Injured construction worker

Personal Injury vs. Workers’ Compensation

I get frequent questions about the difference between personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims. The two can be confusing.

Workers Compensation Cases

In Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation claims fall under the Workers Compensation Act.  Individuals who are injured in the course and scope of their employment and sustain a loss of earnings as a result thereof are covered by the provisions of the Workers Compensation Act. Generally speaking, they are entitled to receive wage replacement benefits and have all their medical treatment paid by the workers’ compensation insurer.  There are other benefits provided by the law but those are the main ones.  Importantly, the Workers Compensation Act does not provide compensation for pain and suffering or similar losses.  Also, the law, generally speaking, gives the Employer immunity from lawsuits outside the Workers Compensation Act for on the job injuries.  Injured workers are often surprised to learn that they cannot sue the employer for negligence that may have contributed to the happening of an accident and that their only remedy relative to the employer is the benefits available under the Workers Compensation Act.  

Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury cases, often called third-party cases, are lawsuits that allege injuries caused by the negligence of another.  A common example is an auto accident case where someone is injured as a result of the negligence of another driver and seeks compensation for their damages.  Negligence is part of the injured person’s burden of proof.  In other words, he or she must prove that the accident was caused by the negligence of the other driver.  In third party negligence cases, the law allows for a wider range of damages to be recovered including compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for these types of damages is not available to injured workers under the Workers Compensation Act. 

A personal injury claim can, on occasion, come from a work injury

There are certain, limited circumstances, where a personal injury claim can be made from a work injury. The most common scenarios, though not the only ones, include situations where an injured worker is driving as part of his work and is in a motor vehicle accident caused by a negligent driver.  The injured worker should receive workers’ compensation benefits because he was injured at work but he may also bring a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the accident.  Another common scenario occurs when a worker is injured by a defective and dangerous machine.  He should receive workers’ compensation benefits because he was injured at work but he may also bring a third party negligence suit against the manufacturer of the machine.  These are complicated cases and should be handled very carefully by a skill. When a worker is injured by a machine, an experienced workers compensation attorney should be consulted and evaluated whether a third-party suit is warranted. 

The PA Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP Can Help

The differences between personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims can often be quite confusing. Luckily, the attorneys at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP can help. We understand the impact that an injury can have on all aspects of your life and the importance of being compensated for your past, present, and future damages. That’s why we’re here to help you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!