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Can You Sue Worker’s Compensation for Pain and Suffering?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2018 | Workers' Compensation

In personal injury suits, often the amount that the injured party seeks is not just medical recompensation and coverage for lost wages, but they can sue for pain and suffering caused by the injury. Pain, be it physical or emotional, is a traumatic experience, which is why many personal injury suits include monetary compensation for being forced to go through that when no person alive would choose to. However, personal injury lawsuits and worker’s compensation insurance are two different beasts that do the same thing differently – they both cover injuries. However, worker’s compensation only covers injuries at work, but can you also get payment for pain and suffering as well?

Although every state has slightly different worker’s compensation laws, it is extremely rare that they allow coverage for pain and suffering. The reason that worker’s compensation insurance was set up by each state is to protect both employees as well as their employers. This coverage allows injured employers to have their medical bills and lost wages covered so they aren’t pushed into poverty by their injury. However, it also protects employers from having to deal with a personal injury lawsuit waged by the injured employee that could potentially bankrupt their company.

Since workers’ compensation protects the employer from personal injury lawsuits except in the most severe cases of gross negligence, it negates the ability to get pain and suffering for your injuries. However, there is one notable exception in which an injured worker can sue for pain and suffering, and that is if the injury was caused by a third party, be it at work or not affiliated with the employer.

An example of this would be that you are working and you are hit by a car that suddenly went off the road and veered into the area you are working, hitting you. As you were on the clock and doing your job at the time, you can collect worker’s compensation for your injuries, but you can also sue the driver of the vehicle in a personal injury suit that will also include pain and suffering. However, the third party that injuries you doesn’t need to be just some random person that nobody saw coming. Third parties can include negligent co-workers, independent contractors, and even the manufacturers of defective equipment (providing the malfunction wasn’t caused by improper maintenance). They can all be sued alongside filing for worker’s compensation, but they will both be two very separate cases for the same injury.

The exception aside, it is important to remember that the worker’s compensation system isn’t there so you can get a large payout like personal injury lawsuits are. They are simply there to make sure that your injury and potential disability are covered. Even though pain and suffering aren’t included, the system is vastly preferable to the one before it where employers could find a couple hundred reasons not to pay for the injuries of their workers even if it prevented them from having a job ever again.

If you have been hurt at work, the worker’s compensation is there to make sure that you don’t need to cover your medical bills yourself. However, while it is a great system for injured worker, that doesn’t mean that the system will make it easy for you. Worker’s compensation is an insurance system after all, and insurance companies always want to keep the costs low. This is why you need a skilled attorney at your side to not only show that you are serious about filing, but to avoid any potential pitfalls that can and will show up in the filing process. For representation in the St. Paul area, contact us today.