Workers Compensation or Personal Injury?

       When someone is hurt on the job it’s important that person understand the issues involved with being compensated for damages.  In most cases, the worker is covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance provide through his employer. In the event the employer did not have Worker’s Compensation Insurance when required due to having 4 or more employees, the state has a fund to help such injured employees.  Workers’ Compensation is meant to help both the employee and employer.  It helps the employee by providing medical coverage and wage compensation without having to prove liability of the employer.  It helps the employer by preventing litigation costs as Worker’s Compensation is the sole remedy for the employee against the employer.

      Despite the positive ends of Workers’ Compensation to the employee, it also brings certain drawbacks. Despite the liability of the employer in causing the injury through negligence, the employee cannot receive more than the medical costs and certain lost wage compensation.  It does not provide for damages like pain and suffering, and therefore can drastically limit what the employee would have obtained through a personal injury claim which could be filed in court.  The employee must accept Workers’ Compensation as the remedy against the employer, even if the employee would rather file a personal injury claim to obtain redress for damages like pain and suffering.

      It’s important to know that Workers Compensation law in South Carolina does not restrict an injured employee from filing a personal injury claim against a third party (non-employer) with liability or some liability for the injury.  The employee must first finish the Workers’ Compensation coverage and settle the Workers’ Compensation claim before pursuing any further claims (and the Workers’ Compensation Insurance may hold a lien on any settlement or award from the liable third party).  However, when the Workers’ Compensation claim is settled, the employee can then file a claim against the third party.  That claim can involve all damages, including potentially punitive based on the nature of the case (more on punitive damages in another article).

      It’s important to have an attorney handle work-related accidents.  Not only because Workers Compensation law is relatively complicated and involves many rules in dealing with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The other reason is that an attorney will be able to properly assess the potential for the third-party claim and what damages to seek. 

Call The Bill Connor Law Firm Today!