Individuals who have suffered a significant workplace injury often ask whether they can pursue a personal injury claim against their employer, as well as a workers’ compensation claim. Because the workers’ compensation program provides an exclusive remedy for injured employees, they typically cannot pursue both types of claims following a workplace injury.
Workers’ compensation does provide coverage for employees injured at work in terms of lost wages, medical expenses, and compensation for permanent disabilities. However, unlike personal injury claims, the workers’ compensation program does not allow the injured employee to seek compensation for pain and suffering.
If the employer acts intentionally, recklessly, or illegally in causing the employee’s injury, the employer is responsible for an additional 15% increase in overall compensation for the victim. In order for an employee to be entitled to this additional compensation in a workers’ compensation claim, the employer must have either violated a safety order or statute, failed to use safety devices, or disobeyed an established safety rule. Wisconsin law caps this 15% increase to a total of $15,000 in additional benefits.
Although you generally cannot maintain both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim against your employer, you may have a personal injury claim against a third party who causes your injury. Third party personal injury claims can provide compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering. For instance, if an employee delivering or picking up materials is injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by another driver, the employee theoretically could have a workers’ compensation claim against his or her employer and a personal injury action against the third party driver who caused the accident.
The intersection between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims is very complex, and you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer to guide you through the claims process as appropriate. Each type of claim has strict requirements and deadlines that a claimant must meet in order to maintain a successful claim. Boller & Vaughan are Wisconsin motor vehicle accident lawyers who dedicate their practice to protecting the interests of the injured and their families. Contact our office today to set up your free consultation and learn what options are available to you.