CA Workers' Compensation vs. Personal Injury: What's the Difference?

What’s the Difference Between California Workers’ Comp and Personal Injury Claims?

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All jobs pose potential hazards to employees. Whether you sit at a desk all day or you work at a construction job site, workplace injuries can cause serious medical and financial problems for victims.

If you have been injured on the job in California, your employer may tell you that workers’ compensation will cover all your needs. While workers’ comp is supposed to cover your medical costs related to a job injury, it might not be your only option. Understanding the differences between workers’ compensation and personal injury can help you choose the best course of action following a workplace injury.

California Workers’ Compensation Pros and Cons

California law requires that, with few exceptions, all employers operating in California carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This coverage will provide injured workers with reimbursement and/or compensation for medical bills and lost income.

Pros

The biggest upside to workers’ compensation is that you do not have to prove negligence. If you are injured on the job, your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage kicks in and covers your medical expenses and lost wages.

Cons

That’s all you get. Taking workers’ comp limits your compensation to medical bills and provable lost wages. It does not account for any lost earning potential if your injuries are so severe that you cannot return to work. Additionally, workers’ compensation does not provide compensation for pain and suffering or other punitive damages. A workers’ compensation insurance company may also deny your claim quickly, leaving you with a choice of either appealing or paying your medical expenses out of your own pocket. (Side note: a workers’ comp lawyer may be able to help with insurance issues.)

California Personal Injury Claims Pros and Cons

It is often more beneficial to file a personal injury claim against the party responsible for your workplace injury as it may provide you with a broader range of damages. Personal injury compensation is often higher if your claim is successful.

Pros

Having the potential to collect a higher sum of money in a personal injury claim can help you avoid having to pay any medical costs on your own. In addition to receiving compensation for your injury, you may also be eligible for additional compensation that protects your future earning potential while you are out of work. Workers’ comp insurance does not provide such damages.

Cons

It’s not always an option. Sometimes workers’ compensation is your only available remedy when you’re hurt at work.  A thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your injury may be required.

Workers’ Compensation or Personal Injury: Which is better for you?

As workers’ comp lawyers are infamous for saying… it depends. The differences between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims can be summarized as follows:

  • Workers’ comp claims do not require a finding of negligence, but they only cover medical bills and lost wages.
  • Personal injury claims are not always available and require a finding of negligence, but also may allow for more damages above and beyond medical bills and lost income.

It’s also possible that both options are available to you. For example, your injuries could have been caused by a third party’s negligence, in which case you could collect workers’ compensation benefits from your employer and sue the third party for personal injuries.

Getting legal advice from a skilled and trustworthy workers’ compensation lawyer or personal injury lawyer is the only way to know for sure what options and remedies are best for you and your specific situation. Luckily, PARRIS has over 35 years of experience navigating both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. Contact PARRIS today to find out how we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

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