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

If you sustain an injury at your Oklahoma place of work, you may wonder if you should file a workers' compensation claim or a personal injury claim. You may also wonder what the difference is between the two. Though both workers' compensation claims and personal injury claims award injured parties for their harms and losses, there are a few substantial differences between the two actions. At BDIW Law, our Oklahoma personal injury lawyers are prepared to explain to you the differences and to advise you of which type of claim is the most appropriate to file given the circumstances of your accident.

Fault Versus No-Fault

One of the biggest differences between workers' compensation and personal injury claims is fault. In workers' compensation cases, the injured party is entitled to benefits regardless of who caused the accident. When you are injured at work , you do not need to prove to your employer, the insurance company, or anyone else for that matter that your employer did anything wrong. Likewise, neither the insurance company nor the employer can prove you were negligent in any manner to avoid paying you benefits. For instance, if you fall and injure yourself at work, your employer must compensate you regardless of how the accident occurred. This type of no-fault system does not exist in civil court.

When you file a personal injury claim, however, you must prove fault or, more specifically, that someone else's negligence resulted in the accident and your subsequent injuries. For instance, you can slip and fall on someone else's property but that does not necessarily mean that the property owner is liable for your injuries. To recover compensation from the property owner, you must prove that the property owner negligently maintained his or her property and/or failed to warn you of a hazardous condition about which he or she knew or should have reasonably known—i.e. that he or she did something wrong.


If you were to file a workers' compensation claim, you would receive two types of damages — hospital and medical bills and lost income for any period during which you are disabled and unable to work. Depending on the extent of your injuries, disability payments may be permanent or temporary. Regardless of the type of disability benefits you receive, you will receive approximately two-thirds of your regular salary in monthly payments.

If a medical provider determines that you can return to work with rehabilitation or retraining, your employer's workers' comp company may be willing to pay for such services.

The damages you may recover via a personal injury claim are much more comprehensive. When you file a personal injury claim, you stand to recover compensation for economic and non-economic losses as well as for past and future losses. Damages for which you can recover compensation are as follows:

● Past and future lost wages;

● Past and future medical bills;

● Loss of earning capacity;

● Loss of homemaking capacity;

● Cost of at-home care;

● Cost of rehabilitation and therapy;

● Pain and suffering and emotional duress;

● Loss of enjoyment of life; and

● Loss of companionship.

Ability to Sue

The differences between the two types of claims are irrelevant for injured workers, as injured workers can not sue their employers. Workers' compensation law is designed to ensure that all injured workers get weekly benefits until they recover without putting too much effort into proving fault. In exchange, workers give up their rights to sue.

Workers' compensation law does make exceptions for workers who fall into one of two categories — interstate railroad workers and crewmembers of vessels.

When to Contact an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney

Whether you sustain an injury at work or out in public while off the job, you should retain the help of an Oklahoma personal injury or workers' compensation lawyer. Even if you do not believe you need one, an attorney can assess your case and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Contact BDIW Law to schedule your free consultation today.

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