Is My Case Personal Injury or Workers’ Comp?

All you know is that you’ve been injured, and it wasn’t your fault. You probably don’t care about the differences between Workers Compensation laws and personal injury laws. You just don’t want to have to pay the doctor’s bills and cover the lost income from missed work yourself. However, there are in fact great differences between the two sets of laws, including:

  • Workers’ compensation laws apply only to people who were injured on the job.
  • Workers’ compensation is paid to injured employees regardless of who was at fault or caused the injury.
  • If an employer makes workers’ compensation available to the injured employee, that employer can never be sued for personal injury or even wrongful death.
  • An Oregon worker who has been injured on the job can still pursue a claim through a Portland personal injury lawyer, if the injury was caused by someone other than a co-worker or employer.
  • Workers’ compensation benefits are extremely limited. They cover only medical expenses, disability payments and retraining benefits, all of which have specific (and often very inadequate) limitations.
  • If the employer’s insurance company makes it clear that they will not deny the workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury attorney will tell a potential client there’s little that can be done to assist in their claim.
  • If the insurance company and the injured employee cannot agree on an appropriate settlement, the case will be filed and decided by the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Personal injury law is not nearly as restrictive as workers compensation laws. For example:

  • Anyone who is hurt due to the actions or inactions of others is covered by personal injury laws.
  • Whereas no proof of negligence is required in a workers compensation claim, anyone filing a personal injury lawsuit must prove another person was negligent. The victim must also quantify the amount of damage caused.
  • A defendant in a personal injury case can use many defenses to avoid paying a claim, which employers in a workers’ compensation claim cannot use.
  • Personal injury cases not agreed between an injured party and an insurance company (or by the defendant) will be heard in a court of law and decided by a jury.

Workers comp…personal injury claim…what’s the difference?

Many Oregon workers have to get behind the wheel as part of their job. A large number of company vehicles are used by every kind of employee from a delivery man to a sales representative to a service technician. Sometimes, things go wrong, and the person behind the wheel gets injured due to someone else’s negligence. When this happens, a Portland personal injury lawyer will frequently be asked whether the injured victim should file a claim for workers’ compensation, or if they would be better off filing a personal injury claim.

When a worker is injured on the job and behind the wheel, it’s often difficult to decide which type of claim should be filed; workman’s compensation, personal injury or both. It is indeed a tricky area, and one in which the advice of a good Portland personal injury lawyer could be invaluable. It’s quite possible, contrary to popular opinion, that a person who is injured at work will not be able to file a negligence compensation claim or third party liability case.

If, for example, a co-worker or even an employer caused the injury completely by accident, then what’s known as a Workers’ Compensation bar may prevent the injured party from filing such a personal injury claim, if the incident is covered under the company’s workers compensation policy. Even if the person who made the defective decisions that led to and caused the injury is in the same trade or occupation as the injured person’s employer but works for an entirely separate company, the victim still won’t be able to make a personal injury claim.

As Usual, Compensation Depends on Who Was at Fault

Let’s say, for example, the boss is driving you to lunch to meet a client. Maybe he’s going to help you with a delivery, or he’s going to paint the trim while you lay the carpet. And let’s say you’re in an accident on the way to wherever it is you’re going because your boss ran a red light and you got T-boned. Can you file a personal injury claim against your boss? The answer is almost definitely “no,” if the boss has a workers’ compensation policy.

However, take the same trip to the same place with the same person behind the wheel. This time, it’s a different negligent driver that runs the red and smashes into the passenger side of your vehicle, giving you cracked ribs and possible whiplash. In these cases, it’s not only possible to put in a personal injury claim against the negligent driver, but you may very well also be covered and qualified to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Don’t get too excited; this isn’t the lottery win you might think. In situations such as that just described, your employer and the company’s insurance company will be entitled to recover whatever they’ve paid out, once you’ve received your settlement from the claim against the negligent third-party driver.

It’s clear that Oregon laws governing personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims are multi-faceted and highly complex. In some cases, both types of claims can be made for a single accident, but in a large number of workers’ compensation cases, the amount of the award is never sufficient to cover the damage caused to the victim. For this reason alone, anyone who has been injured through the negligence or willful act of someone else should immediately contact a dynamic and dedicated Portland personal injury lawyer. At the very least, get some advice and weigh up your options.

A personal injury attorney is your best chance of getting the compensation you deserve, and which you need to help make the road to recovery a bit easier to travel.