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Worker’s Compensation or Personal Injury Lawsuit? Which to Pursue and Their Benefits

Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd.
Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd.

April 6, 2016


People get injured at work every day and while hopefully it never happens to you, it’s good to know the steps to take afterwards should you ever fall victim while on the job. The two most common actions after being injured at work are to file a worker’s compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit, but first, what do these options involve and when does it make sense to pursue either or?

Worker’s Compensation

Generally, workers will file for a worker’s compensation claim, as it avoids the need for litigation and most workers, who are injured on the job are already covered under their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Under worker’s compensation law, these benefits are available to employees hurt on the job and there is no need to prove who is at fault, meaning it protects both the employer and employee.

The insurance policy of worker’s compensation varies based on the boards of individual states, while federal worker’s compensation insurance for federal employees are administered by the federal government. In the state of Illinois, the Worker’s Compensation Commission tackles injuries, illnesses and diseases incurred during work. Cases must first go through an arbitrator, who then decides if the case will be reviewed by the Commissioners and so on through the courts until the issue is resolved.

Should the employee win their case, they will receive non-taxable income based on their salary and may also receive medical care, compensation for permanent injuries, and reimbursement for any new job training needed. However, making a worker’s compensation claim means that you give up the right to sue your employer except for in very specific cases.

Personal Injury Lawsuit

Personal injury lawsuits do not need to be made on the job as they are claims made against a specific person or persons. Anyone who is injured due to the purposeful or negligent cause of another party, which causes suffering on behalf of the plaintiff or injured worker, can file a personal injury lawsuit. However, the plaintiff must show proof as to the amount of damages that were caused during the incident.

Since these kinds of settlements are compensatory, these claims may include property damage, medical expenses, lost wages and/or loss of future earnings the plaintiff might have been able to obtain.

So, which is right for you?

Worker’s compensation claims are the most common filings after work-related injuries since they are less costly and quicker to process thanks to less litigation needed for the settlement. Worker’s compensation also doesn’t claim fault on either party, saving the integrity of employee and employer alike. While personal injury lawsuits may bring in higher compensation for the plaintiff’s claim, cases take a longer time to finalize and are much harder to win.

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