Difference in Workers Compensation vs. Personal Injury Law

Many injured workers who attend their free case review with a Lake City workers comp lawyer are confused about the benefits they are entitled to get. Many of them want to sue their employer and demand pain and suffering damages or even punitive damages.

These are recoverable rights in personal injury cases, but not in workers’ compensation cases. To help employees understand their true rights, this article will cover the key differences between the types of cases. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation about a personal injury or workers compensation case.

1. Proving Fault

Fault is at the core of seeking damages from someone who acted with negligence or malice. But this concept is not applicable everywhere. Here are the differences.

Personal Injury Case

You must prove the other party’s fault in a personal injury case to seek damages. Moreover, since the state of Florida adopted the modified comparative negligence principle in 2023, you must also show that you were 50% or less at fault for the accident that resulted in injuries and economic damages. Your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

This is a significant change from the previous system, which allowed drivers who were more than 50% responsible for a crash to seek damages.

Workers Compensation Claim

You do not have to prove fault in a workers comp case. The system exists to protect employers from lawsuits and offer injured workers compensation for medical care costs and lost wages.

Thus, you can still collect benefits even if you were at fault, provided that:

  • You were on the clock.
  • You were performing an activity within the scope of your employment.
  • You were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • You were not fighting or roughhousing.

2. Recoverable Compensation

Injured people suffer both economic damages, in the form of unexpected expenses and loss of income, and non-tangible damages, such as physical pain and emotional trauma. Here are the types of damages recoverable under the two legal concepts.

workers comp

Personal Injury Cases

Florida personal injury law allows plaintiffs to recover three types of damages. First, there are the economic damages. These represent all the present and future costs incurred as a result of the accident the victim suffered:

  • All medical care
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Other pocket expenses.

Secondly, there are the non-economic damages for pain and suffering.  These damages cover non-tangible damages, such as:

  • Loss of quality of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of consortium
  • Physical pain
  • Disfigurement.

Finally, if the plaintiff escalates their case to trial, the judge and jury may award punitive damages. However, the plaintiff must prove with clear and convincing evidence that the other party acted with malice, willful intent, fraud, or oppression.

Workers Compensation Claim

A Lake City workers comp lawyer can only negotiate two types of compensation on behalf of an injured worker:

  • Medical care costs for the work-related injury (not any chronic or old injuries)
  • Replacement wages represent 2/3 of the average weekly wages.

There is no possibility of seeking damages for pain and suffering in the workers’ compensation system.

3. Taking the Case to Court

All lawyers strive to settle their clients’ cases out of court. This means getting your compensation faster, with less stress and fewer legal costs. But there are situations when an insurer refuses to settle. This is when the attorney will sue their client – the negligent party – and the insurance company has to defend them in court.

Here is how this applies to personal injury and workers comp.

Personal Injury Cases

You can always take your case to court and let a judge award you the compensation you deserve. However, many cases settle even before the first hearing. When an insurance company realizes that you are not afraid to escalate your case, they will accept to pay a fair compensation amount.

Workers Compensation Claim

You cannot sue your employer if your workers’ comp claim is denied. There are very few cases when employers can be held liable for workplace accidents – specifically when you can prove that they acted with willful intent to hurt you.

If a claim is denied, you have the option to file a petition for benefits with the Office of the Judges of Workers Compensation Claims.

Injured at Work? Talk to a Lake City Workers Comp Lawyer!

If you suffered a workplace accident, your only chance of getting benefits is by filing a workers comp claim. The process is not simple and easy, as you won’t be dealing with your employer directly, but with an insurance adjuster.

Your best option is to schedule a free case review with an experienced Lake City workers comp lawyer to understand your rights and start the claim process. Call us today at 954-448-7355!

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