Workers Compensation vs Personal Injury Claims

The Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a personal injury lawsuit and a workers’ compensation claim. The biggest difference between the two is that a personal injury claim is based on fault while a worker’s compensation case is not. To be able to recover damages against someone in a personal injury claim, the other person must be negligent, meaning that the other person must have done something wrong.

Other differences between the two are as follows:

Workers’ Compensation Claim

  • Fault not required
  • No benefits for pain and suffering
  • No right to sue
  • Limited to employees

Personal Injury Claim

  • Fault required
  • Recover all damages you have suffered
  • Right to sue
  • Any injured person is eligible

Determining Fault

With workers’ compensation, fault does not have to be proven to be able to receive benefits. Even if you are negligent and your negligence is the cause of your injury, you’re still entitled to receive workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is in place 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.

With personal injury, someone needs to be liable or at fault in order to file a personal injury lawsuit. In many cases this involves some form of negligence. For example, to recover damages for slipping on someone’s property, you must prove that the other person failed to maintain their property.

Pain and Suffering

If you file a workers’ compensation claim, you are not entitled to benefits for pain and suffering. You’ll typically receive weekly payments in addition to permanent impairment benefits, medical bills, and vocational rehabilitation. In a personal injury claim, you are entitled to recover all of the damages that you have suffered. Damages include lost earnings, lost earning capacity, medical bills, future medical expenses, permanent impairment, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Right to Sue

Workers’ compensation eliminates the ability to file a lawsuit against an employer. However, there are situations where you may be able to sue for damages caused by injuries:

  • If you were injured by a defective product, you might be able to bring a products liability action against the manufacturer of the product
  • If you were injured by a toxic substance, you might be able to bring a toxic tort lawsuit against the manufacturer of that substance
  • If you were injured because of your employer’s intentional conduct, you might be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against your employer
  • If your employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance, you might be able to sue your employers in civil court or collect money from a state fund
  • If a third party cause your injury, you might be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person


Workers’ compensation claims are restricted to employee’s of a company, where as personal injury lawsuits can be filed by anyone. However, not all employers are required to have workers’ compensation coverage within their company or workplace. State laws vary and depend on how many employees a company has. If your company does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

It’s important to seek legal counsel before filing a workers’ compensation claim. Our attorney’s will be able to assist with your case provide details on expected outcomes. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.