Suing Vs. Workers' Compensation Claims: What To Know

Workers' compensation insurance and filing a lawsuit against the employer are two different avenues that individuals can pursue after a work-related injury. Below are the key differences between the two choices after a work injury.

Fault issues: Workers' compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that employees are generally entitled to benefits regardless of who caused the injury. It provides compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation services. Filing a lawsuit, on the other hand, typically requires proving that the employer's negligence or intentional actions caused the injury.

Compensation limits: Workers' compensation has predetermined benefits based on the severity of the injury and the employee's average wage. The amount awarded is often limited and may not fully cover all losses. In contrast, a successful lawsuit may result in greater compensation, including damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and future earnings.

Time and complexity: Workers' compensation claims generally have a streamlined process with specific time limits for reporting injuries and filing claims. The system is designed to provide prompt benefits to injured workers. Lawsuits, on the other hand, can be more time-consuming and complex, involving gathering evidence, filing legal documents, and potentially going through a trial. Lawsuits also tend to take longer to reach a resolution.

Employer liability: Workers' compensation insurance is a form of employer-provided coverage that protects both the employer and the employee. When a worker accepts workers' compensation benefits, they typically waive the right to sue their employer. Filing a lawsuit, however, directly holds the employer accountable and can potentially result in a judgment against them.

The burden of proof: In a workers' compensation claim, the burden of proof is generally lower compared to a lawsuit. Workers' compensation claims typically require showing that the injury occurred in the course of employment, while lawsuits generally demand demonstrating the employer's negligence or intentional misconduct as the cause of the injury.

Legal process: Workers' compensation claims are typically handled through administrative processes, overseen by state workers' compensation boards or commissions. Lawsuits, on the other hand, are pursued in civil courts and involve attorneys, discovery, and potentially a trial.

Overall, one of the key differences between lawsuits and insurance claims is that you must show that the employer was directly at fault for your accident. The option to sue an employer can vary by state. Consult with an attorney who specializes in workers' compensation or employment law to provide specific guidance based on your circumstances and local regulations. 

For more info, contact a local workers' compensation lawyer