If you have been injured on the job, you may have a claim for financial compensation. But, asserting your legal rights presents many challenges, and this starts with determining what type of claim you need to file.
Specifically, you need to determine if you have a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim (or if you might have both). Each type of claim has different deadlines and requirements, and each also offers different opportunities for securing compensation.
So, what type of claim (or claims) do you need to file if you have been injured on the job? Here’s what you need to know:
What Is the Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury?
There are several critical differences between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims in California. However, for purposes of protecting your legal rights if you have been injured on the job, there are four key differences of which you need to be aware. These differences relate to:
- Who is eligible to file a claim
- The grounds for filing a claim
- The deadline to file a claim
- The compensation that is available
1. Workers’ Comp vs. Personal Injury: Who Is Eligible to File a Claim?
In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation, you generally need to be classified as an “employee” (as opposed to an “independent contractor”). Most employees in California are eligible for workers’ compensation, although farm workers, contract employees, day laborers, and certain other types of workers may be excluded.
On the other hand, if you are an employee, then you cannot file a personal injury claim against your employer in most cases. As a general rule, employees are limited to seeking workers’ compensation benefits (with some exceptions). However, you could still have a personal injury claim against one or more third parties, such as a contractor, property owner, or a negligent driver’s insurer.
As a result, regardless of the nature of your employment, if you have suffered a job-related injury in Bakersfield, you should consult with an attorney about your legal rights. Your attorney can determine if you qualify as an employee or independent contractor and advise you which claim (or claims) you may be able to pursue.
2. Workers’ Comp vs. Personal Injury: What Are the Grounds for Filing a Claim?
In California, workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. This means that you can file a claim for benefits without having to prove that negligence on the part of your employer and/or a coworker led to your injury.
Personal injury claims, on the other hand, require proof of fault. In most cases, this involves proving that one or more parties were negligent in causing the accident that led to your injury.
Some common examples of negligence in work injury claims include:
- Failure to follow safety rules and requirements
- Negligent property maintenance
- Negligent hiring or negligent entrustment
- Negligent driving
You may also be entitled to compensation if you suffer a job-related injury due to a defective product. The manufacturer and other parties involved in the assembly, sale, and distribution of the product may be liable for the harm you suffer.
3. Workers’ Comp vs. Personal Injury: What Is the Deadline to File a Claim?
Another critical distinction between workers’ compensation and personal injury is the deadline for filing a claim. Under California’s workers’ compensation law, you only have 30 days to notify your employer of your injury, and you must file a formal claim within one year.
Most personal injury claims, on the other hand, have a two-year statute of limitations.
For both types of claims, these are strict deadlines. If you wait too long, you could lose your right to seek just compensation. With this in mind, it is extremely important that you contact an attorney about your legal rights as soon as possible.
4. Workers’ Comp vs. Personal Injury: What Compensation Is Available?
The final major difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims in California is the compensation that is available. Under California’s workers’ compensation law, benefits only cover injured employees’ medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages (usually two-thirds of their weekly wage). While eligible employees can file for workers’ compensation regardless of fault, the tradeoff is that the compensation that is available is limited.
With a personal injury claim, however, you can seek full compensation for all of your accident-related losses. This includes your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other types of financial and non-financial losses. As a result, even if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you will still want to ask your lawyer about filing a claim for personal injury damages.
Contact Our Bakersfield Work Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been hurt on the job, it is important to consider all of your legal options for recovering compensation. Although you may qualify for workers’ comp benefits, you may also be entitled to recover full damages in a personal injury claim if the negligence of a third party resulted in your injury.
Please call The Law Offices of Mickey Fine at (661) 333-3333 today for a free consultation. Bakersfield work injury lawyer Mickey Fine serves clients in areas of California.