It is important to understand the fundamental basis for personal injury claims and workers' compensation claims in order to distinguish between the two. The most important difference is that a personal injury claim is based on the fault of one party, whereas a workers' compensation case does not require a finding of fault. In order to recover damages against someone in a personal injury case such as a car accident, a slip and fall, a medical mistake, or any type of negligence action, a party must be at fault. For workers' compensation, the claim exists regardless of wrongdoing or fault. For example, if someone stumbles in the hallway at work and breaks their leg, no one is at fault for the fall. However, since it occurred in the course of that person's employment, it will be covered as a workers' compensation claim.
Personal Injury Claims
A personal injury claim is the result of someone's negligent act, and these claims are governed by the principles of tort law. A standard of care is necessary for almost every instance. Once the established standard of care has been breached and harm results, a personal injury claim may arise. Connecticut's Workers' Compensation Act states that the employer remains responsible for any injury or harms that occur in the course of someone's employment, regardless of fault.
A personal injury claim is governed in large part by what we refer to as common law. Typically, common law is a duty that society, through the process of life experience and courts entertaining different kinds of controversies over the years, establishes what is considered reasonable conduct. Most unreasonable or negligent conduct can give rise to a breach of a duty of care that a court will acknowledge, recognize, and enforce. This is true whether someone is driving inappropriately, failing to maintain their property, engaging in certain types of conduct, or failing to engage in conduct that is appropriate under the circumstances.
A personal injury case is a claim for monetary damages and is prompted by a breach of a duty of care that was owed to the injured party. It is different from a workers' compensation claim in the sense that a workers' compensation claim is regulated by statute, and there does not need to be a violation of a duty of care or negligence.
Workers' Compensation Claims
Workers' compensation benefits are intended to accomplish several things. A workers' compensation claim is intended to provide immediate support, medical, and wage indemnity for an injured worker. A personal injury claim generally usually involves getting the compensation at the end of the process, whether it is one or several years later. The injured party is not going to have any immediate financial compensation, where a workers' compensation claim can provide this in the meantime.
How Is My Claim Handled if I Sustain an Injury at Work and I also have a Claim for Negligence?
It is often the case that individuals who have been hurt at work also have a separate personal injury claim arising from the same accident. This is known as a third-party claim, because an additional party is legally responsible for the injured worker's accident. The workers' compensation claim is obvious, but being aware of a third-party claim may not be so obvious to the injured worker. They may have been injured in a motor vehicle accident while working, or perhaps they fell in someone's broken stairwell while making a work-related delivery. A workers' compensation claim may be very valuable in its own right, but there may be good reason to pursue a separate personal injury claim.
There are damages that can be compensated in a third-party personal injury case that are otherwise not compensable in a workers' compensation claim. Having both claims pursued together will provide you with the proper level of protection. For instance, if you have a partial loss of earning capacity, then you are going to be limited in your workers' compensation claim to getting a completely full recompense for that loss. However, you may be able to obtain the necessary compensation through a third-party personal injury claim.
There are restrictions on the amount of partial loss earning capacity that you will be paid for under the workers' compensation rules. Certain damages, such as pain and suffering (or in some cases, scarring) can be compensated in a third-party case but not in a workers' compensation claim.
It is often necessary that an injured worker retain a law firm that can handle both the workers' compensation case and the companion third-party personal injury case, should there be one. In this way, they will have a concerted effort working to coordinate the best possible outcome in each potential claim.
Personal Injury Claim
- Based on the fault of one party
- Result of someone's negligent act
Workers' Compensation Case
- Does not require a finding of fault
- The claim exists regardless of wrongdoing or fault
- Additional party is legally responsible for the injured worker's accident
- Workers' compensation and also another separate claim personal injury claim arising from the same accident.
To learn more about workers' compensation cases and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: Book Download