When you’re injured on the job, an employer is usually required to provide compensation for medical costs, lost wages and other costs associated with the injury. The same thing applies to work-related illnesses. In most cases, employers carry workers compensation insurance to underwrite their liability for injuries or illnesses workers incur on the job. Those injured on the job often ask if they can file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. In most cases, they cannot.
There are broad differences between personal injury law and workers compensation law. Employers in Oklahoma are generally required to carry workers compensation coverage to protect workers from medical bills related to on-the-job injuries or illnesses. When an employer carries workers compensation coverage, the employer is for the most part immune from lawsuits related to on the job injuries.
A person injured on the job, however, might have valid claims against someone other than the employer. The negligence of someone other than the employer can be grounds for a personal injury case against the third party. For example, a person injured in a motor vehicle accident while traveling in the course of their job may be entitled to personal-injury damages if another motorist caused the accident. In that case, the injured worker might file a workers compensation claim and seek to recover damages from the person who caused the accident.
Fault (usually) Not a Factor in Workers Comp Claims
In a workers compensation claim, a worker does not have to prove negligence on the part of their employer. Workers compensation benefits may be available without regard to who was at fault, or whether any particular fault was involved. Workers compensation insurers sometimes try to avoid paying benefits to a worker the insurer claims was at fault in their own accident, perhaps because they were intoxicated. That’s why it’s important for a person involved in a workplace injury to seek the advice of an experienced Oklahoma workers compensation attorney when they don’t receive all the benefits to which they are entitled.
It can also be important to contact an Oklahoma workers compensation attorney as soon as possible when filing a claim for a workplace accident or injury. Insurers may attempt to compensate a worker for less than the full cost of medical care and related expenses. Companies may seek to under-compensate workers based an assessment of the injury provided by the company’s preferred doctor. They might not tell an injured worker they have the right to get a second opinion from a doctor of their choice.
Unlike workers compensation, which is an insurance program regulated by the state and adjudicated in an administrative court system set up just for that purpose, remedies in personal injury claims are the purview of Oklahoma civil courts. To win a personal injury claim, a person who files the claim must prove the person accused was at least negligent in allowing the injury or illness to occur. A person’s rights to recover damages when injured vary depending on whether they are an invited guest of a commercial enterprise or they are a social guest on someone else’s property.
Personal injury law provides several defenses that can protect a person from having to pay a personal injury claim. Those defenses are not available to employers who carry workers compensation plans, which generally pay out regardless of who was at fault. And unlike workers compensation, the payout to a person who files a personal injury claim might not be limited by statute.
Free Consultation: Workers Compensation Attorney
These are just a few of the most significant differences between personal injury law and workers compensation law. If you’ve been denied workers comp benefits to which you are entitled, contact a workers compensation attorney immediately. Call for a free evaluation to find out what an employer might owe you, and how get the medical care you need. Call (918) 879-1681 today.
For a free consultation with an Tulsa, Okla. workers compensation attorney regarding an on-the-job injury and Oklahoma workers’ compensation benefits, call the Wirth Law Office – Tulsa at (918) 879-1681 immediately.