Injured workers need to understand the differences between workers’ compensation and a personal injury lawsuit.
Each option has distinct advantages and considerations that can significantly impact the outcome for an injured worker.
Workers’ compensation is a system designed to provide quick benefits for employees who suffer injuries on the job. This no-fault system ensures that injured workers receive compensation without having to prove fault on the part of their employer.
However, the trade-off for this expedited process is that the scope of compensation has limits. For example, in 2024, the amount of benefits workers in New Jersey can receive is up to 70% of their wages or a maximum of $1,131 per week. Injured workers typically receive medical benefits, wage replacement and rehabilitation services, but they may forfeit the right to pursue additional damages.
While the simplicity of the workers’ compensation process is advantageous, it may not cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Moreover, workers cannot negotiate their compensation because the state determines these amounts.
Personal injury lawsuit
A personal injury lawsuit allows injured workers to seek comprehensive compensation that extends beyond the confines of workers’ compensation. The employee should establish the employer’s fault, and the injured party has the potential to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other non-economic losses.
However, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit is a lengthier and more complex process. It requires gathering evidence, proving negligence and navigating the intricacies of legal proceedings. The outcome is uncertain, and success hinges on the ability to demonstrate fault on the part of the employer.
When faced with the decision between workers’ compensation and a personal injury lawsuit, injured workers need to carefully weigh their options.