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It is possible for a person to have a personal injury and workers’ compensation claims arising out of the same incident. So what is the difference?

A worker’s compensation claim is for injuries sustained while at the workplace or while in the course and scope of employment. Claimants are not required to prove who was at fault. Worker’s compensation benefits are limited to medical expenses and other disability benefits. Because the benefits are limited, those that are seriously injured are not fully compensated for their losses. Claims are made through the worker’s compensation system and they do not go to court unless claims are denied and appealed. When worker’s compensation benefits are available, the injured employee cannot bring a lawsuit or claim against the employer.

So how can an injured worker bring a personal injury claim? Although injured workers receiving worker’s compensation benefits cannot sue their employers, they can bring personal injury claims against a co-worker or other person/company, such as another company working on a jobsite. The injured worker must prove that the other party was negligent and the defendant is then entitled to present defenses. In a personal injury claim, the injured worker is entitled to more benefits than in worker’s compensation, such as pain, suffering, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of consortium.

It is important that you speak to an attorney to determine whether you are limited to the benefits available in a worker’s compensation claim, or whether you may be entitled to be “made whole” with a personal injury claim.

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