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Difference Between Workers’ Compensation Cases and Civil Cases

Difference Between Workers’ Compensation Cases and Civil Cases

If you are injured through someone else’s negligence, as in a car accident, you might expect to have the medical bills handled by the other driver’s insurance company, or if the driver is uninsured, the costs may come from your own insurance company. Worst case scenario? You’d have to go to court to receive compensation for your injuries. In that case, you’d have to show that someone caused your injuries and that you should be compensated.

If you are injured at work and your employer is required to participate in California’s Workers’ Compensation program, the employer or their insurer will pay for your injuries regardless of fault. However, your compensation may be limited.

There are some important distinctions between how compensation arises in a Workers’ Compensation case and a civil case.

You don’t have to prove fault if you are injured at work. The law attempts to do away with matter so that workers can get back to work easily, to minimize the damage to the employment relationship, and to help a worker receive wages while healing.

The trade-off for making it easier to receive payment for injuries is that the employer’s financial responsibility is limited. The law limits the amount you can receive. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you could receive $290 per week for as long as you are unable to work under the current law.

If you were to sue someone to be compensated for your injuries in court, you could receive compensation for pain and suffering, and in some cases so could your family. There could even be punitive damages. You could not receive that in a Workers’ Compensation case.

To ensure that you don’t sue your employer for work-related injuries, California has something called the Exclusive Remedy Rule. It’s part of the compromise of Workers’ Compensation law between worker and employer. The rule says that you may not sue your employer while you are receiving unemployment compensation.

However, the Exclusive Remedy rule has some exceptions:

  • Dual Capacity – your employer isn’t just the employer, for example, but also makes the machine you were using when injured
  • Fraud concealment – when your employer hid some dangerous condition from you
  • Employer assault – speaks for itself
  • Power press – negligent maintenance of large powered equipment that caused you injury
  • Uninsured employer – one who should have been covered by law but hasn’t

These exceptions and other workarounds might allow you to bring an action against your employer if you are injured on the job. The recovery could be greater, and it could mean the difference between proper compensation and financial ruin if your injuries are devastating enough.

You can discuss your Workers’ Compensation case with us at any time, we will give you an honest assessment of how we can help.

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