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

Richard Gama June 2, 2020

An employee who is injured on the job may not receive the compensation they deserve because they are unaware of their legal options. In most cases, a worker will fill out an accident report, submit the paperwork, and draw workers’ compensation. However, there may be other sources of compensation that the employee did not consider.

For instance, it is possible to also file a personal injury claim in certain situations. While Colorado law may prohibit an employee from filing both a workers’ compensation and personal injury claim, the law only applies in certain circumstances. Let’s take a look below at the difference between workers’ compensation and personal and why you may need a personal injury lawyer in Denver, Colorado.

How Are Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims Different?

Workers’ compensation and personal injury claims do overlap but they are also distinctly different in some ways.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is available in Colorado for employees who are injured due to a job-related accident. Colorado regulations do not require the claimant to identify the at-fault party to file a claim. Therefore, even if the employee is at fault for their own injury, they can still file a claim.

Damages in a workers’ compensation case may include medical bills, lost earning capacity/disability, or vocational rehabilitation. What constitutes damages in a workers’ compensation case is the trade-off between labor and business owners. Therefore, all damages must relate to the employer-employee relationship.

Personal Injury

An employee who is injured on the job also has the option of filing a personal injury claim instead of seeking workers’ compensation. The main difference between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim is that the claimant must establish fault and liability. They must prove that the other person’s negligence is what led to their injuries and subsequent damages.

Damages in a personal injury case also differ from those in a workers’ compensation case. The victim is allowed to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, disability, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or loss of enjoyment of life. Therefore, the scope of a personal injury claim is much larger.

Which Type of Claim Should You File After an Accident?

Before you file a personal injury claim or fill out a workers’ compensation accident report, speak with a personal injury lawyer in Denver, Colorado. An attorney can review your case, discuss your legal options, and advise you on which type of claim to file.

When choosing between a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim, there are several factors you should consider such as:

  • The cause and nature of the accident

  • The party responsible for your injuries

  • The projected total of medical bills

  • The length of time you expect to be out of work

Keep in mind that both workers’ compensation and personal injury compensation have their financial limits. Therefore it’s important to determine which claim will best compensate for your costs and damages. Also, you may want to consider which claim is most likely to give you the best outcome with the least resistance.

Can You Sue Your Employer or A Coworker?

Colorado workers’ compensation laws ensure that you receive some type of benefit when you are injured on the job. Therefore, in most cases, you are not allowed to sue your employer or a coworker when you are injured. However, there are cases in which you can do both depending on the circumstances of the accident.

For instance, if your attorney can demonstrate that your accident occurred as a result of an employer’s or coworker’s gross negligence, reckless behavior, or intent to harm, then you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensatory damages and punitive damages. Therefore, you should speak with an attorney about your legal options.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Denver, Colorado

If you were injured on the job, then you have the right to explore your legal options and recover your losses. Gama Law Firm can help. We have extensive experience with complex cases involving workplace injuries.

Call our law firm today to get a free case review from a personal injury lawyer in Denver, Colorado. We also serve clients in Aurora, Parker, Centennial, and Castle Pines, Colorado