If you’re hurt at work, why should you consult a workers’ compensation attorney as opposed to a general personal injury attorney?
To clarify why, we first need to contrast these two types of law.
Personal Injury Law: The Basics
Personal injury law deals with injuries that occur as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional act. The plaintiff (the injured party) must prove that the defendant (the person or company being sued) was at fault and caused the injury. Damages may include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages, and other losses. Personal injury lawsuits are typically filed against individuals or companies, rather than employers.
Example 1: Jill is walking on a sidewalk when she trips and falls on a broken piece of pavement. She breaks her arm and incurs medical bills and lost wages. Jill can file a personal injury lawsuit against the city to seek compensation for her damages. She must prove that the city was negligent in maintaining the sidewalk, and that their negligence caused her injury.
Example 2: Tom is visiting a friend’s house when he is bitten by their dog. He requires medical treatment and incurs medical bills. Tom can file a personal injury lawsuit against his friend to seek compensation for his damages. He must prove that his friend was negligent in controlling their dog, and that their negligence caused his injury.
Workers’ Compensation Law: The Basics
Workers’ compensation law deals with injuries that occur on the job. Fault is generally not a factor in workers’ compensation claims, unless the work self-inflicts the injury (i.e., cause his own injury with intent of defrauding the insurance company). As long as the injury occurred in the course of employment, the worker is generally eligible for benefits. Benefits may include medical treatment, disability benefits, and vocational rehabilitation. Workers’ compensation claims are typically filed against the employer or their insurance carrier on behalf of the employer.
Example 1: Bob is a construction worker who falls from a ladder while working on a job site. He injures his back and requires medical treatment. Bob can file a workers’ compensation claim with his employer’s insurance carrier to seek benefits for his medical treatment and disability benefits. He does not need to prove that his employer was at fault for his injury.
Example 2: Sarah is a retail worker who slips and falls on a wet floor while stocking shelves. She injures her ankle and requires medical treatment. Sarah can file a workers’ compensation claim with her employer’s insurance carrier to seek benefits for her medical treatment and lost wages. She does not need to prove that her employer was at fault for her injury.
- Personal injury law and workers’ compensation law differ in terms of the types of injuries they cover, the need to prove fault, and the parties that claims are filed against.
- Personal injury law deals with injuries caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional act, and the plaintiff must prove fault to recover damages.
- Workers’ compensation law covers injuries that occur on the job, and fault is generally not a factor in claims, which are typically filed against the employer or their insurance carrier.
Does It Matter Which Type of Attorney You Choose?
If you’re hurt at work, it’s generally a good idea to consult a workers’ compensation attorney. Here’s why:
- Experience: Workers’ compensation law is a specialized area of law that is complex and often varies by state. California’s rules are especially confusing. Workers’ compensation attorneys have specific experience and knowledge in this area of law, which can be invaluable when it comes to navigating the claims process and maximizing the benefits you receive.
- Focus on Workers’ Compensation Claims: Workers’ compensation attorneys generally focus their practice on representing injured workers, and have a deep understanding of the workers’ compensation system, including the laws, regulations, and procedures that apply to claims. They can provide guidance on what benefits you are entitled to, and how to pursue your claim effectively.
- Contingency Fees: Most workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. This can make it more affordable to hire an attorney, as you won’t have to pay any upfront costs or hourly fees.
- Knowledge of Insurance Companies: Workers’ compensation attorneys are familiar with the insurance companies that provide workers’ compensation coverage, and the tactics they use to deny or limit claims. This knowledge can help you anticipate and respond to any issues that may arise during the claims process.
- Appeal Process before the Workers Compensation Court: If your claim is denied or if you are not receiving the benefits you are entitled to, a workers’ compensation attorney can represent you in the appeals process. They can prepare and present evidence, make legal arguments, and negotiate on your behalf to help you obtain the benefits you deserve.
We’re here to help you through this. Contact our CA workers’ compensation attorneys to navigate the complex claims process, maximize your benefits, and ensure that your rights are protected.