When you get injured, your first thought is how you will pay your medical bills and recover any lost compensation. A personal injury lawsuit is one way to recover financial losses due to an injury, and workers’ compensation is a way to help recover from an injury that could affect your livelihood. Anyone who has experienced an orthopedic injury such as an ACL tear or dislocated shoulder understands the potential long-term effects of such injuries. It is important to understand the differences between a workers’ compensation case and a personal injury lawsuit and how they can affect your future.

What Is A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A personal injury lawsuit comes about when one party is injured due to the negligence of another party. It does not matter if the negligence was accidental or on purpose, if an injury results then a personal injury lawsuit can be filed. One of the more common types of personal injury lawsuits is a slip and fall accident.

There is no specific time or place where a personal injury lawsuit can occur. It is important to note that just because there was a slip and fall accident does not mean that someone was negligent. Negligence must be proven for the lawsuit to be successful.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a program administered at a state level that helps pay for lost wages and medical bills due to an injury sustained while on the job. In this situation, the worker does not need to prove that their employer or any co-worker was negligent for their injuries to get benefits. As long as the worker was injured while doing their job, they qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. The only exceptions to this are crew members of ships and rail workers.

Difference In Benefits

Workers’ compensation benefits will pay a weekly wage, pay for all current and future medical costs associated with the injury, and could also pay a lifetime wage if the injury is considered to be permanent and makes you unable to work. A personal injury lawsuit offers the same financial benefits, but with the addition of:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of standard of living
  • Loss of the ability to act in a family role (For example, if an injury prevented a husband from being able to be intimate with his wife.)

How A Personal Injury Lawsuit Affects Health Care Funding

In most states, receiving proceeds from a personal injury lawsuit prevents you from being able to receive Medicaid. For example, if you take a personal injury settlement for an injury and the proceeds run out before you are fully recovered, you will not be able to use your state’s Medicaid program to continue paying for treatment. However, receiving a personal injury lawsuit payout will not affect your ability to get Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) temporarily or for the rest of your life.

Accepting Workers’ Compensation Has Consequences

If you are injured at work and accept workers’ compensation benefits, then you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit regarding your injuries against anyone. For example, if you slip and fall on a job site and accept workers’ compensation benefits, you cannot sue if you find out that your accident was the result of negligence on the part of a co-worker.

If you are injured while on the job, your first thought should always be to get the medical attention you need. But before you accept workers’ compensation, you should hire an experienced attorney to help you determine if filing a personal injury lawsuit might be a better decision for your situation.