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Workers' Compensation Claims and Personal Injury Lawsuits in Washington State

Posted by Foster Law on June 16, 2015

What is the difference between a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit?

The principal differences between a workers' compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit are the fault provisions and the various types of compensation available.

The greatest difference is that a personal injury claim is based on fault and a workers' compensation claim is not. In order to recover personal injury damages, the injured person must provide proof that the other person was negligent, that the negligent act caused injuries or damages and the total amount of the damages which stemmed from the negligent act.

Workers Compensation

  • Workers compensation law only pertains to workers who have been hurt on the job. 
  • Workers compensation benefits can be granted to an injured worker regardless of fault. 
  • As long as the employer has workers compensation benefits available to the injured employee, the employee cannot sue the employer for personal injury.
  • An employee hurt on the job by someone other than a coworker or the employer, can pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Workers compensation benefits are restricted to disability payments, medical expenses and worker retraining benefits. 

Personal Injury

  • A personal injury lawsuit pertains to anyone who is injured due to the actions or inactions of others.
  • In order to claim personal injury damages, the injured person must provide proof that the other person was negligent, that the negligent act caused injuries or damages and the amount of the total damages which ensued from the negligent act.
  • In order to prove that the defendant was negligent and therefore liable for your injuries, you must prove all 5 elements – Duty, breach of duty, cause in fact, proximate cause and damages.
  • Under personal injury law, there are numerous defenses that exist for a defendant which may protect them from having to pay damages caused by their actions. 
  • Defenses that may be available to a person in a personal injury case may not be used against an employer in a workers compensation case.

These are just a few of the major distinctions between a Workers Compensation claim and a Personal Injury lawsuit. To determine how these differences may be relevant to your specific injury case, it is important to contact an experienced workers compensation attorney.

If you have experienced a debilitating work injury and are not able to work you may need to seek compensation for wages and time lost. The only way to protect yourself and know if you are owed damages is to speak with a law firm that specializes in work injury cases.

Get Help with Your Workers' Compensation Claim in Washington State

If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness and are seeking workers' compensation benefits, please contact Foster Law, PC to schedule a free initial consultation. We are attorneys in Seattle, Washington with specific expertise in workers' compensation law and can help ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve. Call 206-682-3436 or fill out our online contact form for more information.

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