What is the Difference Between a Personal Injury Lawsuit and Workers’ Compensation?

personal injury attorney Mesa AZ

When someone is injured on a construction site, the type of lawsuit filed is determined by the status of the person injured. Were they working on the job site or were they a bystander?

There are distinct differences between personal injury and workers’ compensation claims. It is important to note that while there are instances that allow an injured worker to file a personal injury suit, most of the time injuries on the job qualify for workers’ compensation and nothing more.

Fault is Required for a Personal Injury Claim

To file a personal injury lawsuit, a person must prove fault.

For example, in an auto accident, just because someone was rear-ended does not mean that the other person was negligent. An accident where no one is at fault rarely happens. After all, to rear-end another vehicle, the tailing vehicle was either following too close or not paying attention — both of which are negligent acts under Arizona personal injury laws.

To receive damages for an auto accident, the plaintiff and their personal injury attorney in Mesa, AZ must prove that the other driver was negligent at the time of the crash. This means the other driver did something wrong.

If the driver cannot prove that the other driver was negligent, they may not have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Under Arizona’s negligence laws, a person must establish the four elements to qualify for a personal injury lawsuit. These four elements include:

  • Duty: The plaintiff must show that the other party owed them a duty of care.
  • Breach of Duty: The plaintiff then must prove that the other party breached that duty of care owed to the plaintiff.
  • Cause: While there may have been a breach, the plaintiff must establish how that breach caused their injuries.
  • Damages: There must be economic costs in some form to file a personal injury lawsuit. These may include medical expenses, pain, and suffering, or property damage.

Fault Not Required in Workers’ Compensation

The biggest difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury lawsuits is the issue of fault.

In a workers’ compensation claim, the individual does not have to prove fault to collect payment. Regardless of how the injury occurred, if the employee was engaged in activities under the regular course of their job, and they were injured, they are eligible to receive benefits.

Damages are Different, Too

The types of damages in these cases are different as well.

With a worker’s compensation claim, a personal injury attorney in Mesa, AZ could not seek damages for pain and suffering. Instead, workers’ compensation only pays out for lost wages and medical costs. Even still, they do not cover these entirely. Instead, the employee will receive a percentage of their usual wages for compensation.

With a personal injury claim, an injured party can receive compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of the enjoyment of life, permanent impairment, future medical costs, past medical expenses, and more.

The concept of workers’ compensation is a tradeoff. It is betwee the business owner and the insurer, and they are covering the employee for their injuries, but they are not covering any liability-based injuries.

Suits are Not Filed Against the Employer

When an employee is injured in Arizona, they could not hire a personal injury attorney in Mesa, AZ to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. Instead, they would receive weekly benefits and have their medical costs paid through workers’ compensation.

There are Instances Where Employees Can Sue

If an employee was injured while on the job, but due to a cause that is not related to their work, they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party.

For example, an employee is delivering packages. They are involved in an auto accident that was not their fault. Instead, another driver caused the crash because they were talking on their cell phone.

In this case, the other party was negligent, and while the delivery driver was on duty, it is in their best interest to seek damages from the third party using a private personal injury lawsuit. With the personal injury lawsuit, they would be able to recover damages for lost wages, medical costs, pain, and suffering, and more.

Employees Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident Should Speak with an Attorney

Defining the lines between a work-related injury and personal injury are not always straightforward. Sometimes, an employee will need to talk with an attorney to explore their options and see if they qualify for filing a personal injury lawsuit against a private third party.

When a private third party is negligent, filing a personal injury lawsuit may be the better option. This is because the plaintiff can unlock higher damage values and potentially have their long-term costs covered.

Those injured in a motor vehicle accident can speak with a personal injury attorney from Tobler Law. Tobler Law offers assistance for those severely injured in motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall, and other forms of negligence claims.

Speak with an attorney at Tobler Law today during a consultation at 480-898-9700 or request more information online.