Workers’ compensation and personal injury claims are two distinct legal processes that provide compensation for injured individuals.
However, these processes apply to different circumstances and have different rules and requirements.
California workers filed 14,173 workers’ compensation claims as of November 5, 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and state laws established workers’ compensation benefits for employees injured on their jobs. This “no-fault” system provides benefits regardless of fault. However, personal injury claims involve situations where a person becomes injured due to the negligence or intentional actions of another party.
Workers’ compensation covers medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, vocational rehabilitation and potentially permanent disability benefits. Personal Injury compensation may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and more. The damages can vary significantly.
Generally, employees only need to file a claim with their state’s workers’ compensation system to receive benefits. Personal injury cases involve a lawsuit against the at-fault party (usually an individual or business) to seek compensation. It may result in a negotiated settlement or a court trial.
In some cases, individuals injured at work may pursue a personal injury claim against a third party (not the employer) whose negligence contributed to the injury. This is in addition to any workers’ compensation benefits they may receive.
Statute of limitations
Both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims have statutes of limitations based on the state and type of injury, but personal injury statutes of limitations are generally longer than those for workers’ compensation claims.
Learn about your rights and options in the event of an injury. The choice between workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim will depend on the circumstances of the injury and the applicable laws in your jurisdiction.