There are many workers that confuse the worker’s compensation system with something it is not – an extra payday. As such, they may wonder if the system includes payment for pain and suffering in the calculation. The fast and easy answer is no, it does not. To understand why, you need to understand fundamentally what the worker’s compensation system was created for.
Why Pain and Suffering Isn’t Included in Worker’s Compensation
Worker’s compensation is protection not just for workers, but for employers. All employers except for a sparse few with the proper exceptions are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance. This insurance makes sure that, if an employee was hurt at work, the employer won’t be sued by that employee for a potentially bankrupting amount. In return, the insurance pays the injured employee’s medical bills, lost wages, vocational training, if they cannot return to their job, and for any permanent disability they may have to endure.
Alternatively, payment for pain and suffering is more common in personal injury lawsuits. For example, if you got hit by a car, you can file a personal injury suit against the driver to pay for your medical bills. In that lawsuit, you can also ask for pain and suffering compensation. This is essentially an amount of money that compensates you for having to endure this injury. You felt pain needlessly and they should have to pay you for it.
With the inclusion of pain and suffering amounts in personal injury cases, it could mean the injured party actually makes a profit from their accident in cases where they were not negligent or were less negligent that the offending party. In workers’ compensation, there is no need to prove that you were not negligent or that you had not assumed the risks of your job, but there is also no way to get compensated for pain and suffering. It could be viewed as a way to reduce the number of accidents at work.
Can You File a Personal Injury Suit Instead?
Pain and suffering awards are not included in worker’s compensation coverage, but injured workers may be wondering if they can waive that coverage and file a personal injury suit instead.
The answer is generally no, but there are some rare exceptions.
As mentioned before, worker’s compensation protects the interests of both employees and employers. If they have the insurance, you are barred from personal injury lawsuits against them. There is some caveat, however.
If you were at work and injured by a third party while working, you will be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party as well as get worker’s compensation from your employer. So if you were at a construction site and a motorist jumped the curb and hit you with their car, you can file for worker’s compensation because you were hurt at work. You can also file a personal injury claim against that driver for their negligence.
In this case, you very well may come out better financially, but that should not be your overall goal. Workers’ compensation is meant so that if workers get hurt in an accident, they are not forced into poverty because they had to pay their own medical bills for it or were left unable to work. The system isn’t perfect, but it is better than the system that came before where workers weren’t protected at all.
Have you been injured at work and need help? Most workers only have to deal with the worker’s compensation system once in their life, but it can be complex to navigate. If you need help making sure the claim you will be relying on is approved, contact us today. The Farrish Johnson Law Firm is dedicated to taking care of injured workers in the Mankato area so they can heal without worrying about how to pay their medical bills.
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Workers’ Compensation Lawyer