Injured at Work: Should I File for Workers’ Compensation or Personal Injury?  

Workplace accidents and injuries happen every day in Nevada. You may never expect to be a victim of one, but if the unexpected happens, it is important to know how to protect your legal rights. You may be eligible for financial compensation through one or more legal outlets. If you are deciding between filing a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit, here’s what you should know before getting started.

Personal Injury Requires Proof of Fault, Workers’ Compensation Does Not

The key question to ask when determining which type of claim to file is whether your workplace injury was caused by someone else’s negligence. Many accidents at work involve negligence, or the failure to use reasonable care. Examples include a careless coworker crashing a forklift into you or an employer saving costs by eliminating important worker safety equipment. Work incidents such as slip and falls, car accidents, construction accidents, and animal attacks are often preventable.

If you have reason to believe that someone else is at fault for your work-related injury, a personal injury claim may be an available option. Obtaining financial compensation through this type of case requires you or your Las Vegas personal injury attorney to prove that one or more parties breached a duty of care that was owed to you and that this is what caused your injury. If not, a workers’ compensation claim may be a more appropriate option for you. This is a no-fault insurance program in Nevada that does not require you to establish someone else’s negligence to receive benefits.

A Personal Injury Lawsuit Could Result in a Higher Payout

Another major difference between a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim is the type of compensation that could be available. In a personal injury case, you may be eligible for a higher number of damages than a workers’ comp claim. For example, pain and suffering damages are available through the former but not the latter.

The types of compensation available through a personal injury case could include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Full lost wages
  • Future lost capacity to earn due to a disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Inconvenience
  • Travel or transportation
  • Attorney’s fees and court costs
  • Punitive damages

A Nevada workers’ comp claim, on the other hand, will only pay an injured worker about two-thirds of replacement wages, disability payments, medical costs and/or death benefits. If you are eligible to file a personal injury claim for your work injury, this route could be more worthwhile, as you and your family may receive a higher settlement or judgment award than you could through workers’ comp.

You Lose Your Right to Sue Your Employer if You Accept Workers’ Comp

Know that once you accept a workers’ compensation settlement, you lose the ability to hold your employer responsible for a work injury. This is how the workers’ comp system works: an employer offers no-fault financial benefits in exchange for being released from any liability for your injury. For this reason, it is critical to discuss all of your legal options with an attorney before accepting a workers’ comp settlement. If a personal injury claim could be worth more, you do not want to bar yourself from this option prematurely by rushing into a workers’ comp settlement.

In Some Cases, You Can File Both Types of Claims

If a person or party other than your employer is at fault for your work injury, you may be eligible for a payout through both types of claims. Accepting a workers’ compensation settlement does not stop you from filing a personal injury claim against a third party that is not your employer or the company you work for, such as a product or equipment manufacturer, a coworker, a contractor or subcontractor, a property owner, or the government.

If you suspect that someone caused or significantly contributed to your work injury who is not your employer, consult with an attorney at Koch & Brim, LLP to explore the possibility of a personal injury claim. Our attorneys will pursue the highest possible payout for a serious work injury. We will review all of your legal options with you in detail during a free case consultation.