Workers’ Comp and Pain and Suffering

Legal Tips and Resources

Getting injured can be a huge strain on your finances. Luckily, if you are injured while on the job, then workers’ comp will compensate you for all financial losses that were directly caused by the injury. However, this does raise the question of whether non-financial losses are covered, such as pain and suffering. This short guide will answer this question.

Non-Financial Suffering

Unfortunately, the workers’ comp system only reimburses injured workers for quantifiable, objective expenses. In legal terms, the types of expenses that workers’ comp reimburses are called special compensatory damages. Essentially, if you can state the exact dollar value that you lost due to the injury, then it can be reimbursed. This includes:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages from missed work
  • Loss of the ability to earn an income in the future
  • Miscellaneous medical expenses
  • Damage to property

If a loss is non-financial, then it is considered a general compensatory damage and is not covered. This includes anything where the monetary worth of the suffering is subjective. So, you may feel like you are owed compensation for the physical pain you experienced, the emotional trauma you suffered, or damage to a relationship, but none of these types of damages are covered by workers’ comp.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

In lawsuits, however, general compensatory damages are very common. In these cases, the judge will be the one to decide the exact financial worth of non-financial suffering, such as physical pain. Because this is the case, you may be wondering if you can forego filing a workers’ comp claim and instead file a personal injury lawsuit. Unfortunately, this is almost never allowed. If you were injured while working, then it is nearly a guarantee that you will have to go through workers’ comp and any lawsuits filed will be thrown out. There are a few minor exceptions to this rule:

  • Your employer refused to file a workers’ comp claim. Employers are legally obligated to provide workers’ comp, so your rights have been infringed if your employer refused.
  • The injury was caused maliciously. If there is evidence that your employer or a co-worker injured you intentionally with the goal of causing harm, then criminal charges should be filed.
  • The injury was caused by a third party. If someone other than an employer or co-workers caused the incident, then you can file a civil lawsuit against that individual.

It can be difficult to keep all the laws surrounding workers’ comp straight. It is a good idea to speak with a Nassau County workers comp attorney to learn what your options are.

Thanks to Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. for their insight into workers compensation and pain and suffering.

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