Personal injury and workers’ compensation cases often are very similar and can overlap in certain situations. But they remain two very different case types and are subject to distinctive laws.

Personal injury law primarily deals with cases where individuals suffer harm due to the negligent actions of others. These cases can encompass a wide range of incidents, including automobile accidents, medical malpractice and product liability, among others. The aim of personal injury law is to seek compensation for the injured party for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other related losses and ongoing costs. Those costs can include necessary modifications to homes, such as wheelchair ramps and handrails.

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides benefits to employees who sustain injuries or illnesses while performing their job duties. Unlike personal injury cases, workers’ compensation claims do not require proof of fault or negligence. Instead, employees are entitled to benefits regardless of who caused the injury, as long as it occurred in the course of employment. These benefits typically include medical treatment, wage replacement, disability benefits and vocational rehabilitation.

Despite the clear differences, some incidents may present overlapping factors that can make a case both a personal injury and a workers’ compensation issue. Examples of overlapping incidents include auto accidents that occur when the employee is driving on the job and construction site accidents.

On-the-job car accidents

Consider a scenario where an employee is involved in a car accident while running an errand for his employer. If that employee sustains injuries in the accident, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, if the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, the worker may also pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault party for damages including lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering.  However, if you do collect damages from a third party such as car liability insurance, the workers’ compensation carrier may be entitled to subrogation to recover their payments made for the injury.  The workers’ compensation carrier is only entitled to subrogation if the worker has been made whole, both economically and non-economically, from the third-party insurer.  This can represent a costly calculation and loss of recovery.  You need an experienced attorney to navigate this issue.

Construction site accidents

Construction sites are inherently dangerous environments where defective equipment, inadequate safety measures or third-party negligence, among other issues, can cause accidents. A construction worker injured in a scaffolding collapse while working on a building site would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries and lost wages. If the collapse was caused by a defective scaffolding component or the negligence of another contractor on the site, the victim could also pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible parties for additional compensation.

Understanding the differences between these two areas of law is crucial for individuals navigating the aftermath of an injury or illness, particularly in instances where the two intersect. At Farrar, Hennesy, and Tanner, we specialize in both personal injury and workers’ compensation cases, providing comprehensive legal representation to clients seeking justice and rightful compensation. If you’ve been injured in an incident that involves personal injury, workers’ compensation or both, we can help. Call 912-384-2287 to schedule your free case review today.