Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Cases 

If you’ve been injured on the job, you probably received funds for your recovery and lost wages from a workers’ compensation claim. If your injury was caused by negligence, you may be wondering if you can file a personal injury lawsuit in addition to or in lieu of your workers’ compensation claim. In this blog, you will learn about personal injury lawsuits, workers’ compensation claims, and the differences between them. 

Personal Injury Lawsuits 

A personal injury lawsuit is defined as a legal dispute that arises when one person suffers harm from an accident or injury and someone else may be responsible for causing that harm, whether intentional or through negligence.

When pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, an individual will hire an attorney, like a worker’s compensation lawyer in Las Vegas, NV, who specializes in personal injury law and that attorney will represent them in a civil court proceeding. Personal injury cases are typically resolved during the pre-litigation stage – meaning before formally filing a complaint against a defendant, or through settlement after the case has been filed. The lawsuit may also go through dispute resolution procedures like mediation or arbitration, which are alternate ways to resolve the dispute in a lawsuit that is cheaper, quicker and have more flexible rules than a trial court.  

In a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff (the person who brings about a case against another) can recover compensatory and sometimes, punitive damages from a defendant (the person sued in a court of law). 

Compensatory damages: seek to reimburse or compensate an injured party for the harm they have endured.

Typical compensatory damages awarded include but are not limited to medical bills, loss of earnings, loss of future earnings, future medical care, pain and suffering, loss of consortium.  

Punitive damages: are awarded to punish the defendant for malicious, violent, oppressive, fraudulent, wanton, or grossly reckless actions. Also awarded to deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to what caused the lawsuit. 

Workers’ Compensation Claims 

Workers’ compensation is defined as a form of insurance provided by an employer that offers wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured on the job. When workers’ compensation insurance is provided, the employee relinquishes their right to sue their employer for negligence. Workers’ compensation covers medical expenses, lost wages, ongoing care costs, and funeral costs if someone dies as a result of a work-related injury. 

Workers’ compensation plan coverage varies because coverage is determined by state laws. Most workers’ compensation plans do not cover intentional injuries, emotional injuries, and injuries sustained when a worker is intoxicated at the workplace. Most states require employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Further, employees do not have to monetarily contribute to workers’ compensation insurance as they may for employer-provided health insurance coverage. 

Workers’ compensation claims do not require the employer to be at fault for the employee to be able to collect on a claim. Regardless of who is at fault, workers’ compensation claims will still cover lost wages, medical expenses, and vocational rehabilitation.

Personal Injury Cases Vs. Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation and personal injury lawsuit damages are alike due to the fact that they provide monetary relief to injured persons. Personal injury lawsuit damages and workers’ compensation can both cover costs for medical bills and lost wages.

To bring about a successful personal injury case, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant caused his or her injury or did something negligent which resulted in an injury. On the contrary, in a workers’ compensation claim, fault does not need to be determined in order to collect; the injury sustained just needs to have occurred at work. 

Personal injury cases also have a broader scope of damages. Workers’ compensation claims pay for medical bills and lost wages, but personal injury damages can compensate victims for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and punitive damages. 

Third-Party Negligence

Workers’ compensation claims are considered the sole remedy for injured workers; claims provide compensation for medical costs, vocational training, and lost wages. When an employer provides workers’ compensation insurance for employees, employees can not bring about a personal injury lawsuit against an employer for injuries sustained on the job. An employee is also not permitted to forgo a workers’ compensation claim in order to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

The only way an employee can file a personal injury lawsuit due to an injury sustained at work is when a third party’s negligence caused the injury. A workers’ compensation claim does not prevent the employee from bringing a personal injury lawsuit on a third party. 

For example, a person may receive workers’ compensation benefits if they were hit by another driver while driving for their company business. The worker is eligible for workers’ compensation because they were injured on the job, but can also bring a personal injury lawsuit against the third party driver who hit them. 


Thanks to Eglet Adams for their insight into workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits.