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Work injuries can often lead to grave repercussions such as loss of earnings, or your ability to work for a living – either temporarily or permanently. Dealing with the related paperwork might be the last thing on your mind during such situations, however, filing for compensation might go a long way in covering your expenses and other damages. 

As of 2020, 2.8 cases of work injuries were reported for every 100 employees in the private sector, which is a rate that has been consistent in recent years. With that in mind, it is necessary for every employee to be aware of their rights so that they can deal with the consequences of a work-related injury in a better way.

What is a Worker’s Compensation?

Worker’s compensation is a type of insurance plan introduced by the U.S. Government, wherein workers can claim damages in case of an injury or disability that takes place at work. The law was brought into effect with the aim of eliminating the need for litigation by offering monetary awards to injured workers. The Federal Law regulates the compensation claims for federal employees.

The State Law regulates the worker’s compensation for other industries and occupations, and every state has a predefined set of conditions and processes that should be followed. In Texas, if a worker is injured at work, the law requires the employer to provide compensation in a way that assists workers while they are recovering, till they become whole. 

Workers’ compensations are monitored by the Division of Workers Compensation (DWC), where the business has to register for the law to be applicable to it. It is important to note that Texas law allows employers to opt out of providing such compensation.

Worker’s Compensation vs. Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you suffer an injury at work, the first thing you should do is check whether your employer is registered under the Worker’s Compensation Act. If they are, then you can go ahead and claim compensation for your injury. But if not, you may want to file a personal injury lawsuit. Here are a few factors that distinguish worker’s compensation and personal injury lawsuits to help you decide.

Claim

When you are claiming worker’s compensation in Texas, you are required to contact DWC, and check if your employer covers it. If your employer does cover worker’s compensation, the next step would be to file a CS-41, which is essentially an injury report, and Form-041 for claiming compensation for your work-related injury. The DWC gets in touch with your employer from there on and supports you through the process till your claim is settled. It is important to file your injury report within a week or two of your injury, 

On the other hand, filing a personal injury lawsuit requires you to get in touch with a lawyer who is specialized in the area. Once you provide the required details and evidence for your claim, the lawyer will represent your interests till the time you are able to acquire the compensation, even if your lawsuit goes to trial. 

Proof 

In the case of a Worker’s Compensation, while some employers do insist on acquiring proof of how your injury for their own records and policy management, it does not matter who is at fault. Even if you get injured as a result of your own carelessness at work, you are liable for compensation as the injury occurred at your workplace. 

On the other hand, a personal injury lawsuit requires you to have strong evidence that supports your claim, so that the accountability of the concerned party can be established. It requires a thorough investigation of the events leading up to the injury and may require you to support it with eyewitness accounts, testimonies, and any physical evidence that might corroborate your version of events. 

Damages

When you are claiming worker’s compensation, it is important to know that it does not cover damages for pain and suffering. Moreover, you are essentially forfeiting the right to sue the employer once you have claimed worker’s compensation. The only exception would be in case you have evidence to prove that your injury was caused due to an intentional act by the employer. In such a case, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. 

When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you can claim damages for any lost earnings, diminished capacity to earn, medical bills, and any rehabilitation that you may need as a result of the injury. It also takes into account the pain and suffering caused to you as a result of it. 

Additional Factors

Remember that you can file a personal injury lawsuit in case the injury happened as a result of using a defective product, an intentional act, use of toxic or illegal substances, or in the event that your employer does not provide a worker’s compensation. You can even file a personal injury lawsuit if the injury has been caused at your workplace but by a third party who does not work for your company. 

Additionally, if you are fired for filing a worker’s compensation claim, you can sue them in court for such a dismissal. You can also file a complaint to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if you work in unsafe conditions. 

The Verdict

Work related injuries are more common than you would think, and more often, it can be debilitating and traumatic. In such cases, being diligent and aware of your rights can be crucial in defining your actions post-injury. A worker’s compensation can be a great way for you to claim damages for the injury that you have incurred at work, but in some cases, you might need to go ahead and file a personal injury lawsuit. 

The first thing you should do in any case is to file an injury report and seek the necessary legal counsel for getting compensation against your claim.