If you’ve been injured in an accident at work, you may be wondering how you’ll be compensated for your injuries, lost wages from time off work, and other accident-related losses. Usually, that means filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are some cases where a personal injury claim may also be appropriate for a work injury.
But what’s the difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims?
If you’ve been hurt in a job-related accident in Arizona, the answer to whether to file a workers’ comp or personal injury claim may not be clear-cut. Call or contact the experienced attorneys at the Matt Fendon Law Group to discuss your unique circumstances in a free consultation.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state system that obligates most Arizona employers to provide medical and wage loss benefits to workers who suffer a job-related injury or are diagnosed with an occupational illness.
Qualifying workers are automatically entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for any job injury or illness as long as the injury is work-related. This is true regardless of who is at fault.
Workers’ compensation benefits may include medical treatment for injuries or illnesses, partial wage replacement for missed time from work, and disability benefits. In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, workers are generally prohibited from filing personal injury lawsuits against their employers.
Does Fault Matter in Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ compensation is considered a “no-fault” system. An injured worker is not required to prove that their employer is to blame for their injury to receive benefits. The employee only needs to show that their injury occurred or arose from the course and scope of their employment.
Fault Required for Personal Injury Cases
In a personal injury claim, an individual must show that the other person or party they are seeking compensation from is at fault for their losses.
Fault in a personal injury case may be established by proving that someone else is to blame for an injury due to intentional or unintentional recklessness. This is called proving negligence and requires the collection of compelling and persuasive evidence.
Can You Sue for Both Workers’ Comp and Personal Injury?
Under the workers’ comp system, an employer usually is immune from personal injury claims arising from job injuries. That’s in exchange for the employer being required to furnish an injured employee with no-fault workers’ comp benefits.
However, an injured worker may be entitled to step outside the workers’ compensation system and bring a personal injury claim when a third party caused their work injury.
Let’s say a faulty piece of equipment or machinery malfunctioned and harmed you on the job. In that case, you could have a valid personal injury claim against the equipment’s designer or manufacturer. In another scenario, someone whose job includes driving could sue a negligent third party driver that causes the accident. In addition, if an injured worker works for a subcontractor and the general contractor fails to provide a safe work place, the subcontractor employee could sue the general contractor for personal injuries.
In rare cases, workers could have a claim against their employer if the employer’s intentional conduct harmed them. Investigating those cases is a job for an experienced lawyer, so make sure to call one right away if you think that’s the case.
Can I Get Both Workers’ Compensation and a Personal Injury Settlement?
If a worker can file both a workers’ comp claim and a third-party personal injury claim, they may be entitled to pursue settlements for both claims. However, if an injured worker obtains compensation in a personal injury claim, the worker’s employer or the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer may be entitled to reimbursement from the personal injury settlement.
Get Help from an Arizona Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Need help determining whether you have a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim? Contact Matt Fendon Law Group today for a free consultation. With offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, and Flagstaff, our experienced team of workers’ compensation lawyers can put you on the path toward the money you are owed.