Brian White | November 10, 2022 | Workers Comp
Personal injury law covers all kinds of accidents, from car accidents to defective drugs to slip and fall accidents. One major gap in personal injury coverage is workers’ compensation claims. The workers’ compensation system covers most (but not all) workplace injury claims.
Crew members of vessels and interstate railway works are not included in the workers’ compensation system because they rely on their own (federal) system to compensate them for work-related injuries.
Difference #1: Fault vs. No-Fault
In a personal injury claim, you must usually prove that the defendant was at fault to win. One notable exception to this rule is product liability claims, for which you do not need to prove fault to win. Personal injury claims that require proof of fault rely on the “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof—you win if your evidence at least slightly outweighs the defendant’s evidence.
In a workers’ compensation claim, you do not need to prove that your employer was at fault to win. In most cases, you can win a workers’ compensation claim even if your injury was your own fault.
Difference # 2: The Ability to File a Lawsuit
In a personal injury claim, you can immediately resort to the Texas court system to resolve your claim by filing a lawsuit. By contrast, the Texas Department of Insurance handles workers’ compensation claims. Practically speaking, both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims end at the settlement table most of the time.
It is possible to file a lawsuit over a workplace injury, but your options are meager:
- You can file a lawsuit against your employer for “gross negligence,” which means something like “extreme negligence.”
- If your employer’s negligence was ordinary rather than “gross”, you can still sue to overturn an adverse administrative decision. However, you can only sue after you exhaust your administrative remedies. That means you must lose one administrative appeal before filing a personal injury lawsuit.
- If you can find a third party who bears liability for your injuries, you can immediately file a personal injury lawsuit against them. An example might be the owner of a construction site who allowed a dangerous condition to exist on their property.
If you are sure that the accident was not your fault, it might benefit you to seek a third-party defendant to sue over your injuries. You might win more compensation that way (see below).
Difference #3: Damages
The Texas workers’ compensation system pays for all of your approved medical expenses plus 70% of your average weekly wage before your injury.
If you win a personal injury claim, you can receive 100% of your lost wages plus non-economic damages. Non-economic damages can be extensive, which is why victims of work-related injuries often seek a way to file a lawsuit. The Texas personal injury system offers the following forms of non-economic damages:
- Emotional anguish,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of companionship and society,
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental anguish, and
- Physical impairment.
A court might reduce your personal injury damages to the extent that the accident was your own fault. If the accident was more than 50% your fault, you will not receive any damages at all. If you do win non-economic damages, however, they could be large. Pain and suffering damages alone frequently amount to well over 50% of the total value of a personal injury claim.
Difference #4: Filing Deadlines
In Texas, you usually have until two years after your accident to file a personal injury claim. Deadlines are much shorter for a workers’ compensation claim. You must file an injury report with your employer within thirty days of your injury, and you must appeal your first impairment rating within 90 days of the date it was issued. You must file a formal workers’ compensation claim within one year of the date of the accident that injured you.
You Probably Need a Houston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Unless your claim is minor, you probably need an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer to help you. A personal injury lawyer can represent you whether you file a personal injury claim or a workers’ compensation claim. Schedule a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer to find out more.
Contact the Houston Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – East Fwy
11811 East Fwy, Suite 630-06
Houston, TX 77029
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – South Loop
2600 S Loop W, Suite 293
Houston, TX 77054