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By John Kristensen of Kristensen, LLP posted in Employment Law -- Employee on Thursday, September 5, 2019.
Difference Between Personal Injury and Workplace Injury

When it comes to the pain and physical impact of any injury, the how, where, and why it happened has little impact on what you feel – if it hurts, it hurts. However when it comes to the legal aspect of injury, that’s a different story completely. Not all injuries are created equal, and they are also not treated equally in a court of law. For example, falling in a neighbor’s yard versus tripping in the workplace – the first is a personal injury, whereas the second is a workplace injury. Here are a few general guidelines to give you a basic framework of when a case is justified, and how the context of the incident can determine the legal avenues available.

Personal injury
When it comes to matters of personal injury, there is specific criteria that must be met in order to have grounds for a case. In particular, the matter of fault must be determined. The concept of fault, in essence, establishes that one party (whether it is an individual or organization) behaved in a manner that was negligent, and that the subsequent injury is the consequence of that negligence. If negligence did not occur, then nobody is at fault, and the injury is simply an accident. While that may be difficult to deal with in cases like these, it’s important to note that faultless accidents do happen, and they are often beyond the control of anyone and could not have been prevented. In this case, a lawsuit would not be justified. If a case is justified and won, then the injured party can seek damages – which is compensation for lost earnings, lost earning capacity, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and much more. 

Workplace injury
When it comes to matters of a workplace injury, the criteria is incredibly different. If an employee is injured in the workplace, the matter of fault does not need to be determined, and that employee is nearly always entitled to workers’ compensation. It is not necessary to prove anyone did anything wrong to receive workers’ compensation, but it is important to file a claim and follow all the appropriate legal channels so you can receive your compensation as quickly as possible. Unlike personal injury, however, your compensation is determined based on the expenses for medical bills, permanent impairments, a weekly amount for living expenses, as well as vocational rehabilitation if it’s necessary. You cannot seek compensation for pain and suffering as would be the case in a personal injury case, and – though there are some exceptions – you most often are not able to sue your employer or coworkers.

Although some cases of injury are fairly cut and dry, others can raise questions depending on the circumstances under which the injury occurred. It can be a scary time to feel unsure you have options or help available, which is why we are here to support you through the process. If you or someone you love has been injured, and you believe you may have a case against another person or organization, please reach out to our firm, as we are more than happy to dive into the unique circumstances surrounding your individual experience so you can understand your options and ultimately receive the compensation you deserve.