April 24, 2024

Workers’ Compensation vs Personal Injury Lawsuits in Chicago, Illinois: Which One is Right For Your Injury?

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If you’ve been hurt on the job, your first priority is to seek immediate medical treatment, but after you’ve been stabilized and cleared to leave the hospital, your second priority should be to contact a lawyer. You have two avenues to recourse if you were hurt while performing your duties at work: a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Each of these has benefits and is best suited for a particular circumstance, which is why it’s essential that you reach out to a qualified Chicago personal injury attorney to discuss your options. 

Today, we’ll outline some of the differences between workers’ compensation and a personal injury lawsuit, describe why you might select one over the other, and emphasize why it’s critical that you contact a personal injury attorney directly after receiving medical treatment for a work-related injury.

Workers’ compensation and personal injury lawsuits have several crucial differences

Both workers’ compensation and a personal injury lawsuit can help you receive compensation for injuries sustained on the job, but they aren’t interchangeable. Let’s go through some of the major differences between these two forms of redress.

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that is legally required for employers in most industries, and workers do not contribute to it. This insurance will pay for medical bills and a portion of lost wages for a worker that is injured while performing their duties, and it only requires that the worker prove three things: they were performing their duties, they were injured, and their injuries were related to their work. 

For example, if you were in a car accident while driving a company truck between different work sites, that would count as an accident that happened in the course of performing your duties for your employer. If you were in an accident on the way to work, in your own personal car, that would not count as being injured in the course of your duties. A personal injury lawsuit does not have to be strictly related to your duties as an employee, but it must be clear that the defendant – namely, your employer – is somehow responsible for your injuries.

One of the largest differences is that workers’ compensation does not require you to prove negligence on the behalf of anyone, while personal injury lawsuits do. You can receive workers’ compensation even if you were somehow at fault for the accident; all that matters is that you were injured and that it was directly related to your responsibilities as an employee.

The negligence component can impact whether you should file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit

If your employer or another employee was responsible for your injury, you may be better off filing a personal injury lawsuit, as you’ll receive more compensation. A personal injury lawsuit allows you to sue for damages other than lost wages and medical bills, including pain and suffering, and so the settlements are typically larger than what you would receive with workers’ compensation. However, you have to prove that the defendant was negligent and somehow directly responsible for your injuries; as previously mentioned, there’s no need to prove fault for a workers’ compensation claim.

Even if no one was negligent, you may still be better off filing a personal injury lawsuit if your injuries are very severe or they will result in long-term disability. Workers’ compensation will only pay for specific medical treatments and a portion of your lost wages, while personal injury settlements are typically more comprehensive and will also include future expenses related to your injury. 

This is why it’s essential that you consult with a Chicago personal injury attorney directly after you have been treated for your injuries, because you will need to decide quickly whether you will be filing a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. You typically cannot pursue both a personal injury settlement and workers’ compensation at the same time, and in some industries, you may not be able to sue your employer except under very precise circumstances, so your only option may be workers’ compensation. 

Final thoughts

If you’ve been injured at work, you may believe that your only option is to file a workers’ compensation claim, but this isn’t necessarily true – and it may not be your best choice, either. Be sure to consult with a Chicago personal injury attorney as soon as possible after any workplace accident so that they can advise you on what the best course of action will be for your particular circumstance. With the help of a qualified attorney, you can make a decision that will allow you peace of mind as you recover and prepare to re-enter the workforce. 

Dikki Loona