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Personal Injury and Workers Compensation

workplace accidentAfter suffering a workplace injury requiring hospitalization, medical treatment and resulting in lost wages, you may be wondering how to recoup your losses.

Do you file a personal injury lawsuit or seek benefits through a worker’s compensation claim?

California workers’ compensation

California, like all states, has passed legislation to protect workers who are hurt or develop a work-related illness on the job. Known as worker’s compensation, or simply workman’s comp, these laws are based on a no-fault system, meaning employees are entitled to monetary benefits regardless of who was to blame. Even workers whose own negligent behavior caused their injury are still entitled to worker’s comp benefits.  California employers are under legal obligation to provide workers’ compensation coverage that provides a specific schedule of benefits for medical care, compensation for lost income, travel expenses, vocational training, and reparations for partial or permanent disability.

Under this insurance policy, all that must be demonstrated is that an employee suffered injury while performing his or her work-related duties.  Once the claim goes through, workers typically receive roughly two-thirds of their average income, administered on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.

Downsides of workman’s comp

While worker’s compensation is often viewed as useful safety net for employees who are harmed on the job, there are some downsides to this state-controlled program. Unlike a personal injury action, in which plaintiffs can seek money for various losses incurred – including pain and emotional anguish, lost earning capacity and loss of enjoyment of life – worker’s compensation benefits do not include these types of damages. A workman’s comp case will never reimburse workers for pain and suffering, and even worse, some employees may be denied full coverage for the injuries sustained.

Worker’s compensation provides benefits to individuals who are injured on the job without litigation; however, there are some circumstances where a worker may file a personal injury lawsuit.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit

In order to secure damages in a personal injury case, the injured party must prove that their harm was the direct result of another person’s negligence. Establishing fault is crucial for winning any type of monetary award, which can be much broader in personal injury actions, accounting for pain and suffering, emotional distress as well as a reduction in quality of life.

Personal injury settlements or verdicts tend to be much larger than worker’s comp benefits, and litigation may be warranted in situations where:

  • A defective product or toxic substance caused the workplace injury
  • An employer’s or co-worker’s intentional actions caused the injury
  • An employer failed to provide worker’s compensation insurance
  • Injuries were caused by a third party’s (not the employer’s) negligence 

Both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims are generally taken on a contingency fee basis, which means that upfront fees are covered by your attorney, who takes a small, agreed-upon percentage of your settlement or court award. This fee structure is advantageous for injured workers, because no legal costs are due if the case is lost.

Legal assistance for injured workers

Ellis Law Corporation is proud to represent individuals in Southern California who are in need of expert legal representation in personal injury and worker’s compensation matters. Call 1-800-INJURED to schedule a no-charge consultation with one of our dedicated Los Angeles personal injury lawyers. With more than 25 years of litigation and trial experience, you can rest assured we will fight for maximum compensation.

Additional Personal Injury & Workers Compensation Resources:

  1. California Department of Industrial Relations, Workers’ Compensation in California: A Guidebook for Injured Workers https://www.dir.ca.gov/InjuredWorkerGuidebook/InjuredWorkerGuidebook.html
  2. California Department of Industrial Relations, I was injured at work http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/InjuredWorker.htm