What is the Difference Between a Personal Injury Lawsuit and a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

by James M. Hoffmann on Oct. 19, 2020

Accident & Injury Accident & Injury  Personal Injury Employment  Workers' Compensation 

Summary: If you have been injured on the job, the best thing you can do is speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your options and how to protect your legal rights.

The workers’ compensation system is created to protect workers in case they get injured while performing their duties and need to cover medical bills and lost wages. Most employers are required to carry insurance for such cases and help their employees go through work injuries or sickness.


Unfortunately, many workers' compensation cases can get complicated, and seeking reimbursement for your injuries can become very challenging.


In Missouri, businesses of five or more employees are generally required to carry workers’ comp insurance coverage. The state law generally covers employees of any status: full-time and part-time, seasonal, or even temporary ones. This is good news for Missouri workers, but it won’t guarantee that you will get workers’ compensation benefits.


This is where lawsuits come in. In case you get injured at work and workers’ comp won’t cover you, a personal injury lawsuit may be your best chance. Or maybe your employer is exempt from having workers’ comp insurance (whether they choose it or they don’t have enough employees,) in which case a lawsuit is your only option.


Let's take a closer look at your options and what you can do if you're unsure whether you have a case for workers' compensation benefits.  


How Can You Tell If You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ comp insurance covers injuries and conditions that require medical care beyond first aid. In other words, your injury or condition must be serious enough to require prolonged treatment and not just minor intervention. 


In order to be eligible for a workers’ compensation settlement or benefits, your injuries or condition has to “arise out of and in the course of employment”. Your working conditions or an incident that happened in the scope of your work must be “the prevailing factor” for your damage. 


Reporting your injuries in time and proving that your work was what caused them can be complicated. In some cases, there are no eye-witnesses who can provide statements. In other cases, it’s hard to prove you were performing work duties or not when the incident happened. 


That's why you should always speak with an experienced St. Louis workers compensation lawyer to help you file your claim. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can have a realistic idea of the success of your claim. 


When Do You Need to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If it’s determined that you are eligible to be covered by workers’ comp, you are typically not allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit. They are reserved for those cases that don’t qualify for workers’ compensation, or when the employer does not carry this type of insurance coverage. 


Other lawsuits can be filed in so-called “combination cases” when you can benefit from workers’ compensation coverage, but there is a third-party involved, who has contributed to the circumstances that led to your injuries or occupational disease. 


If you have been injured on the job, the best thing you can do is speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your options and how to protect your legal rights. Call the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann 24/7 for a FREE case evaluation at (314) 361-4300.

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