There are many different types of claims that may stem from a personal injury. For example, if a worker is injured on the job, then he or she may potentially have a workers comp claim. Many clients wonder, though, what is the difference between a personal injury and workers comp claim? Let our Joplin workers comp lawyer explain the difference and provide the basic information you need to choose the appropriate type of claim to file.
Understand the Difference Between the Two Types of Claims
Individuals who are injured while performing the duties of their job are typically entitled to workers compensation benefits. In order to recover those benefits for your injury, you do not have to file a lawsuit or go to trial. Nor do you need to prove fault on anyone’s part. Instead, there is an administrative proceeding before an administrative law judge.
On the other hand, a personal injury claim must typically be brought in court by filing a lawsuit hand ultimately having a jury trial where fault is determined. Unless you can settle your claims ahead of time, going to court will be necessary in order to recover for your injuries. A personal injury claim required proving that the defendant was negligent in causing your injuries.
The Purpose of Workers Compensation Claims
The purpose of a workers’ compensation claim is to ensure that employees who become injured on the job can be reimbursed for those injuries, without having to resort to the courts. The way the system works is that the injured employee receives compensation for the work-related injuries and agrees not to file a legal action against the employer. The employee is not required to prove negligence or liability in order to be compensated for his injuries; making it essentially a no-fault system.
Be Sure to Report your Work-Related Injury Immediately
One mistake you can make when it comes to worker’s comp claims is confusing the need to report your injury with actually filing a worker’s comp claim. If you fail to report your injury or delay in reporting your injury, you may be abandoning your claim. Under Missouri workers compensation law, you are required to report your on-the-job injury within 30 days of its occurrence. If you have questions about your time limits for filing a claim, ask our Joplin workers comp lawyer.
How to Provide Proper Notice of Your Injury
Your notice should be in writing and should include the date, time and place of your injury. The notice typically needs to be delivered to your supervisor or another appropriate officer of your employer. Your notice should also describe the nature and severity of the injury. Keep in mind that failure to report your work-related injury within that 30-day period could result in losing your rights to workers’ compensation benefits. If you have questions about providing notice, speak to our Joplin workers comp lawyer.
There is a Deadline for Filing Your Workers Comp Claim
Once again, reporting your injury to your employer is not the same as filing a workers’ compensation claim. Generally speaking, a workers’ compensation claim must be filed within 2 years of the date of the injury. There are a few exceptions where that deadline can be extended. However, it is never wise to delay filing your claim because you risk waiving your right to benefits. Regardless, if you were treated for a work-related injury within the last three years and you have not yet received a lump sum settlement, then you should seek the advice of a Joplin workers comp lawyer as soon as possible in order to protect your rights.
Workers Comp Benefits are the Exclusive Remedy Available
Before this system was put in place, an employee’s only remedy was to file a lawsuit, which required proof of damages. Now, nearly all employees are automatically entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Likewise, the employer is automatically protected from lawsuits based on the employee’s injury. Basically, worker’s compensation benefits are meant to be a substitute for filing a lawsuit against the employer. In other words, if you accept workers’ compensation benefits, you waive your right to file a lawsuit. Discuss your situation with our Joplin workers comp lawyer to be sure you are making the right claim.
Should You Settle Your Workers Comp Claim?
In some cases, an employer will offer to settle a workers’ comp claim for an amount that does not actually cover your lost wages and your medical bills. If you are concerned that the settlement offer your employer made is not sufficient, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney. It is not always good to simply allow the workers’ comp judge to determine whether the settlement is fair because they typically approve the agreement as long as it isn’t unfair.
If you have questions regarding workers compensation claims or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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