Sometimes the workplace can be dangerous. Worker’s compensation covers all work-related injuries, including incidents such as auto accidents, slip and falls, or illnesses that result from unsafe work environments.
Because these types of incidents are commonly associated with personal injury lawsuits, many people wonder about the difference between a workers’ compensation case and a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Worker’s compensation or “workman’s compensation”
Workers’ compensation refers to the State of Nevada’s mandatory insurance and claims process for helping employees who are injured on the job. NRS 616A.230 makes clear that “…Every person, firm, voluntary association and private corporation, including any public service corporation, which has in service any person under a contract of hire” must have workers’ compensation coverage.
An employee is defined as “every person in the service of an employer under any appointment or contract of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written, whether lawfully or unlawfully.” (NRS 616A.105)
When an employee suffers a work-related injury, regardless of fault, Nevada’s workers’ compensation system is supposed to ensure the quick and efficient payment of, among other things, any resulting medical expenses, lost wages and/or compensation for permanent disabilities. It is an exclusive remedy (the only available option for employees who seek recovery from their employer) and there are significant limitations on what the employee can recover.
Personal injury cases, on the other hand, may involve similar incidents (auto accidents, slip and falls, etc.) but are for claims made against someone other than the employer. They require the filing of a lawsuit to recover damages relating to the accident/injury. Such claims naturally involve allegations of fault – usually negligence. (NRS 41.130)
To recover under a negligence claim in Nevada, an injured party must prove four (4) things. First, the opposing party (defendant) must have owed the injured person a “duty” (not crash into them, keep a location reasonably free of hazards, etc.). Second, the defendant must have “breached” that duty. Third, that breach must have caused the accident/injury. Fourth, the accident/injury must have resulted in actual damages.
Accordingly, personal injury suits and workers’ compensation claims are similar, but they differ in a couple of ways.
As noted above, workers’ compensation provides for compensation regardless of fault. With few exceptions, even if an injured worker caused his own injury, he is still entitled to receive the benefits accorded to him under the workers’ compensation statutes.
On the other hand, in a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party must establish that the defendant was at fault and actually caused the accident/injury.
One of the biggest differences between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims has to do with the types of damages that may be recovered. Specifically, workers’ compensation damages are limited to medical treatment/expenses, lost wages, permanent disability benefits and vocational rehabilitation in the event that the employee is unable to return to work.
In contrast, a personal injury lawsuit entitles the injured party to recover all of the damages incurred, including those available through workers’ compensation and lost earning capacity, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life and more.
Have you been hurt or injured in an accident? Whether on or off the job, a good lawyer can help ensure you get the best treatment for your injuries as well as the maximum compensation permitted by law. The attorneys at Greenman, Goldberg, Raby & Martinez have the experience and expertise to provide quality representation that you can count on. Call today for a free consultation at (702) 388-4476.