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The Differences Between a Work Injury and a Personal Injury

difference between work injury and personal injury

Summary: Workplace injuries are incredibly common, but determining whether you should file a personal injury suit or a workers’ compensation claim usually comes down to determining fault and negligence, which establishes a basis for a personal injury claim.

Workers are injured on the job every seven seconds, which amounts to about 4,600,000 people injured in the workplace every year across the U.S. In 2018, there were 5,250 fatal occupational injuries, which amounts to 3.5 for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

These tragic events are entirely preventable with workplace safety measures and precautions to protect employees.

It can be a difficult, sometimes awkward situation to deal with a workplace injury. After all, you are dealing with your employer. When is an injury in the workplace considered a work injury? When it is a personal injury? How should you proceed when you’ve been injured on the job?

When You Are Injured on the Job

If you’ve been injured at work, the first thing you should do is report your injury to your employer. Depending on the severity of your accident, this report should be filed on the same day or as soon as possible; you should report your injury as soon as is practical. You also should seek the necessary medical care you need.

Your next step should be to file a claim with the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims. This will put your employer on formal notice, and you have certain protections in place:

  • You have the right to file a claim for your work injury or illness.
  • You have the right to seek medical treatment.
  • You have the right to return to work if you have been released to do so by your physician.
  • You have the right to disability compensation if you are unable to return to work either permanently or temporarily.
  • You have the right to appeal any decision regarding workers’ compensation.
  • You have the right to be represented by an attorney throughout the process.

Common Workplace Injury Industries

While injuries can happen in any workplace, they are more common in some work environments than others. What are some of the top industries where injuries occur?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the industries with the most injuries per year:

  1. Healthcare and social assistance: 544,800 workplace injuries
  2. Retail trade: 401,100 workplace injuries
  3. Manufacturing: 395,300 workplace injuries
  4. Accommodation and food services: 271,000 workplace injuries
  5. Transportation and warehousing: 213,100 workplace injuries
  6. Construction: 195,600 workplace injuries
  7. Wholesale trade: 157,100 workplace injuries

No matter where you work, you are entitled to an evaluation of your injuries and the surrounding circumstances for workers’ compensation and/or a personal injury suit.

Personal Injury Claims: When Fault Is Required

To prove that you are eligible for a personal injury claim, you and your attorney need to prove negligence. You may think that if you’ve been injured in the workplace, you are only eligible for workers’ compensation. This is only partially true.

There are some exceptions to this guideline, all of which revolve around being able to show that another party was negligent. For example:

  • If your injury is the result of a defective product, the manufacturer may be negligent, or you may have a liability case against them.
  • If your injury was caused by a toxic substance, you may be able to bring a suit against the manufacturer of the substance.
  • If you were injured as a result of your employer’s intentional conduct, you may be able to bring a personal injury suit against them.
  • If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to sue them in civil court.
  • If a third party caused your injury, you may be able to bring a personal injury suit against them.

What You Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is different from personal injury claims. With workers’ compensation, all employees are entitled to benefits regardless of fault.

When you are injured in the workplace, you do not have to prove that your employer or your coworkers were negligent or at fault to receive benefits. You are entitled to receive benefits even if you yourself were negligent.

Comparing Personal Injury Claims and Workers’ Compensation

Perhaps the most important difference between a personal injury claim and workers’ compensation is who is at fault. A personal injury claim can be filed because you were injured because of someone else’s negligence. A workers’ compensation claim can be filed regardless of fault. It covers any employee who is injured on the job.

Another major difference between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits is that workers’ compensation is meant to help you until you can go back to work, therefore pain and suffering claims are not part of your workers’ compensation claim.

A Work Injury or a Personal Injury? Things to Consider

In most cases, an employee cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer or an employee if they’ve filed a workers’ compensation claim. Sometimes, when a third party is involved in the accident or injury, this becomes a combination case.

With combination cases, if the accident or injury was caused by a third party or someone in your business or company, you may file a separate personal injury lawsuit against the third party who was liable.

Examples of combination or third-party claim cases include:

  • The designer or manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment.
  • The driver of a delivery truck.

Determining the difference between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim can be a challenge. When injuries happen during your work hours, many things factor into whether they should be filed as a personal injury claim or workers’ compensation.

A qualified personal injury lawyer can help you find the best course of action when you’ve been injured at work.

Get the Help You Need After an Injury

If you have been injured in the workplace, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to outline the best course of action, whether that be a personal injury suit or a workers’ compensation claim.

At McCoy & Sparks, we know that after an injury, all you want is to move forward. We’re here to help you do just that. We’ll evaluate the facts of your unique case and work diligently to take care of your needs.

Contact us today, or give us a call at (844) 4KY-WINS to learn more about what we can do for you.

Trust McCoy & Sparks—Premier Personal Injury Attorneys in Central Kentucky

Recognized as one of Central Kentucky’s best law firms for over a decade and counting, McCoy & Sparks works to help people in trouble, representing thousands of clients in Central Kentucky with a focus on providing premium service and delivering superior results.

Regardless of the type of case, our goal is to develop a strategy that best serves your personal needs, then draws upon our courtroom skills to help you reach the best possible result. We start by getting to know you. Next, we will explain all your options, giving you the pros and cons of each choice so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions.

You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Make the right call to (844) 4KY-WINS for a risk-free consultation with one of our attorneys today.