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Should you file for workers' comp or a personal injury lawsuit?

If you have gotten injured at work, you may wonder what to do next. What is the correct route to seeking the financial compensation you deserve: A workers' compensation claim, a personal injury lawsuit or both?

In most cases, it will be to file a workers' compensation claim. However, other factors may allow you to sue, or to both sue and file for workers' comp.

When it is a workers' comp claim

The purpose of workers' compensation insurance is to protect both employer and employee in the event of an accident. When you get hurt, you cannot sue your employer as you would for an injury that is not work-related. However, you can pursue financial recovery through a workers' comp claim. The money you receive covers current and future medical bills, lost wages and other related expenses.

Even if the accident is partially or completely your fault, you are eligible for benefits. The only way to lose eligibility is if you were doing something illegal, you purposely harmed yourself or your use of alcohol or drugs was a major factor in the accident. Roughhousing may or may not disqualify you, depending on other circumstances.

When it is a personal injury lawsuit

There are two instances that warrant a personal injury lawsuit. The first is if your place of employment does not have workers' compensation insurance and was at fault for your accident. You can sue the employer directly.

The other is if a party outside your work is responsible for your injury. For example, if a motorist hits you while on the job, you can sue the driver. If a defective work tool causes you harm, you can sue the manufacturer. In addition to the personal injury lawsuit, you can still file a workers' compensation claim, because the incident occurred at the workplace or while performing job duties somewhere else.

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