Personal Injury Vs. Workers’ Compensation: Which One Should I File?

Have you been injured at your workplace or while performing your work duties, such as a slip and fall? If so, you may be thinking of filing a workers’ compensation claim to pay for your medical bills and help to recover your damages. However, did you know that you may also file a personal injury claim, which could provide you with a better settlement than workers’ compensation?

Generally, workers assume that when they are injured at work, the only option they have is through workers’ compensation; but in some situations, it’s possible to file a personal injury claim as well. Many believe that this is considered ‘suing’ your boss, when in reality a third party may be responsible, such as the owner of the building. In this scenario, the third party’s insurance would be responsible for handling the cost of their safety shortcomings.

When Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim

When you are injured at your workplace or off-site while carrying out work-related tasks and decide to file a workers’ comp claim, you don’t have to prove that your employer, co-worker, or any other party caused the injury. Instead, you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits even when the injury was your fault in some way. This is exactly what this type of coverage is for. It’s meant to protect workers who become injured in any way, since even if the injury was their fault, they would not have been injured if they were not on the job working for someone else.

If you decide to go with workers’ compensation, you will not receive anything outside of economic costs, but you may recover damages such as medical expenses, weekly compensation for wages, permanent impairment benefits, and vocational rehabilitation. You will not, therefore, be able to claim for pain and suffering. This is because workers’ compensation is actually a form of insurance, or a trade between the business owner and the providers of labor.

When Filing A Personal Injury Claim

The biggest and most important difference is that a personal injury claim is based on fault and a workers’ compensation case is not. In order to recover damages against someone for a car accident, a slip and fall, or indeed any type of negligence claim, the other person must be negligent, meaning that he/she must have done something wrong.

Another difference between a workers’ comp claim and a personal injury claim is that the latter are not limited to any specific set of people (i.e. workers). In fact, anyone who is injured due to the negligence of another is eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit, including workers. But in order for an injured worker to recover damages through this more broad route, they must be able to prove that another person or party was at fault or negligent, and caused the injuries.

Unlike workers’ comp damages, personal injury damages are compensatory, which can include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and damages for pain and suffering resulting from the injury.

If you have been injured in a work setting, you may wish to consider the following factors when considering legal remedies:

  • Who is liable for the injury?
  • Was the injury was directly caused by performance of work tasks?
  • Was the injury a one-time event or a recurring condition?

If you have further questions regarding an injury, it may be necessary to discuss more with your employer, or hire a lawyer for more advice.

You’ll Probably Need To Hire An Experienced Attorney

It’s unfortunate when you’re injured on the job, but there are options available to you. Injury and workers compensation laws have a special relationship that is often difficult to understand. You may need to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer to better understand and handle your case. Your attorney can inform you of the different options available to you with regards to an injury that occurred in a work setting. Also, if you need to appear in court or before a judge, your lawyer can help represent you in those times.

Gordon & Gordon Law Firm has been representing clients in the Northwest Louisiana area for over 30 combined years of experience. Attorneys Stephen Gordon and Daniel Gordon founded the law firm of Gordon & Gordon to provide legal representation for people who have been personally injured due to the fault of others. They both work and live right here in the Ark-La-Tex area and will provide a free consultation to you if you call our offices today.

What Is A Contingency Fee?

A client pays contingent fees to a lawyer only if the lawyer handles a case successfully. Lawyers and clients use this arrangement only in cases where money is being claimed—most often in cases involving personal injury or workers’ compensation.

In a contingent fee arrangement, the lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage (often about one third) of the recovery, which is the amount finally paid to the client. If you win the case, the lawyer’s fee comes out of the money that awarded to you from your settlement. If you lose your case, neither you nor the lawyer will get any money, but you will not be required to pay your attorney for the work done on the case either. On the other hand, win or lose, you probably will have to pay court filing fees, the costs related to deposing witnesses, and/or similar charges.

The amount a lawyer can charge for a contingency fee is generally not regulated by law. There are some limited exceptions to this rule, including worker’s compensation claims or claims brought under certain federal laws like the Federal Tort Claims Act. However, because of competition, contingency fees are very uniform throughout the country. Usually, the more complex or time-consuming cases which require the expenditure of considerable costs by the lawyer will demand higher contingency fees. If the lawyer must risk substantial sums of money on risky cases, he or she will often charge a higher contingency fee.

Contingency fees could sometimes be frustrating for both clients and attorneys. In general, contingency fees might be considered a problem for the client or attorney:

  • If a case settles quickly or recovers a lot of money, clients may feel frustrated that the attorney was paid more than the attorney deserves.
  • If a case goes longer than expected or recovers little money, the attorney may be frustrated by lost time and expenses.

In other words, contingency fees by nature will not be 100% accurate, and either the attorney or client may feel somewhat shorted. Attorneys understand this risk, and they can still offset being paid too little on some cases with being paid more than expected on others. Still, clients paying a large fee to an attorney may feel frustrated and want to consider a different payment option depending on the size or nature of their case.

Contingency fees are rarely, if ever, available for these legal areas:

  • Real estate
  • Business litigation
  • Criminal defense (DUI, traffic, drug, and other charges)
  • Adoption
  • Immigration
  • Divorce and similar family law issues
  • Bankruptcy
  • Drafting a contract, will, trust, or other legal documents
  • Starting a business
  • Registering a trademark, copyright, or patent

Consult one of the experienced attorneys at Gordon & Gordon Law Firm to see if your important legal matter can be handled without any cost to you upfront. Our free initial consultation has no obligation, and we’ll work closely with you to determine what the best approach to your case might be, even if a contingency fee is not available or other options are preferable.

How Long Do I Have To File A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you or a loved one have been injured and believe that you might have a personal injury claim, you’ll need to pay attention to the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a state law that sets strict time limits on filing a personal injury lawsuit in court, based on the type of crime involved.

Each state has specific deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. In a personal injury case, the statute of limitations usually begins running on the day that the you were injured.

The statute of limitations is a very strict deadline, and if you don’t file a lawsuit for a personal injury claim until after the statute of limitation expires, your lawsuit will almost certainly be dismissed. There are a few exceptions that a statute of limitations could be extended, but they are used in very limited circumstances and shouldn’t be counted applying in your case.

 

In Louisiana, the statute of limitations is set for the following types of claims:

Contract (oral or in writing) 10 years LA Civil Code Article 3499
False Imprisonment 2 years LA Civil Code Article 3493.10
Assault and Battery 2 years LA Civil Code Article 3493.10
Fraud or Theft 1 year LA Civil Code Article 3492
Libel or Slander 1 year LA Civil Code Article 3492
Medical or Legal Malpractice 1 year LA Civil Code Article 3492
Personal Injury 1 year LA Civil Code Article 3492
Product Liability 1 year LA Civil Code Article 3492
Property Damage 1 year LA Civil Code Article 3492
Trespassing 1 year LA Civil Code Article 3492
Wrongful Death 1 year LA Civil Code Article 3492

 

Why Do Statute of Limitations Exist?

State legislators determine the time limits for various civil claims and crimes. These limits are representative of the public interest and function to serve both the public’s safety as well as the individuals facing charges within the state’s criminal justice system. Statutes of limitations function to ensure convictions are timely, and that those convictions only occur when the evidence does not depreciate over time.

A statute of limitation requires a criminal to remain in the same state where the crime was committed, and that he or she remain publicly visible, or gainfully employed, so that law enforcement has the ability to pursue a public investigation at any time. This helps to ensure a fair and speedy trial is afforded to the defendant, while giving the plaintiff enough time to collect the necessary evidence to prove their claim.

How Do I File A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you are planning to file a personal injury lawsuit against an individual or another entity that is not the government or a government agency, then there is no set time limit in which you have to notify that person of your intention to file a lawsuit. However, this does not mean that you should take your time with this important matter. By acting quickly and efficiently, you will probably increase your chances of resolving your claim faster and more successfully than if you choose to delay.

It is good to keep in mind that even though you notify people of your intent to file a lawsuit, this does not mean that you must file a lawsuit thereafter. By giving notice, you only preserve your rights to do so, while preventing the other parties from defending against a lawsuit in arguing that you waited too long to inform them of your injuries. By notifying the other parties, you are simply ensuring that you will be able to proceed with negotiations regarding settlement and arbitration at your own pace, without feeling rushed or missing the statute of limitations deadline.

What If I Am Filing A Claim Against The Government?

Unlike filing a claim against an individual or a company, if you do need to file a claim against the government or a government agency or employee, you will have a limited amount of time in which you must file a personal injury claim. Depending upon your type of case, this time period usually ranges between 30 days and one year, which can often be shorter under these circumstances than if the lawsuit was filed against an individual or a company. If you do not abide by these timelines, you may unfortunately lose your right to recover any sort of compensation for your injuries or property damage.

Get Help From An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

No one-size-fits-all answer exists. Injuries cost money, including medical bills and time away from work, which is why it makes sense to have an attorney help you with your claim. If you are not quite sure if you need professional legal help after an injury, you should still consult an experienced personal injury lawyer at Gordon & Gordon about your claim at no cost. Then, if you decide you have a claim you want to pursue, you can take that next step with confidence.