What’s the Difference Between a Workers’ Comp. and a Personal Injury Claim?
For ordinary Mississippi workers, it can be hard to know how to cope financially if a serious injury occurs. Many workers are hard pushed to find enough money for basic needs if they can’t get their regular paycheck and yet a serious injury can see them off work for weeks or even months. Hospital bills can quickly mount up and even those people who are insured may find that their insurance is insufficient for anything but basic treatment.
Workers’ compensation in Mississippi
If the injury has been caused at work most workers should be covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. This is a basic form of compensation which covers medical treatment, often at the employer’s designated provider, and a percentage, typically around two thirds, of any wages that have been lost.
Workers’ compensation may also cover future estimated medical treatment if the injury is long term as well as compensation for permanent disability. Not all workers’ compensation claims are honored straight away. The ball tends to be in the employer’s insurer’s court and even though workers’ comp. claims are theoretically no-fault claims (i.e. are not dependent on proving negligence by the employer) are frequently denied.
Workers’ comp. claim denials often entail lengthy and complex appeals. These are rarely won without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Certainly, if you have learned that your workers’ comp. claim has been denied for some reason, you should contact an attorney to discuss how you can appeal the decision.
Mississippi personal injury claims
Any injuries that have been sustained away from your workplace cannot of course be dealt with by workers’ compensation claims unless you were actually on work business, e.g. driving a truck for a trucking company. If the injury was not your fault, or even if you were partly to blame, but someone else was also partly to blame, you should talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as you can. There is a chance you can recover compensation by filing a personal injury claim. Usually, this is filed with the insurer of the person, or entity that you consider was primarily at fault.
Personal injury claims are substantially different from workers’ comp. claims. For a start, they are normally not allowed if you are at work when injured and covered by workers’ comp. You have to go through the workers’ comp. claim process first.
They are dependent on having proof that someone else was to blame for the injury. There must be a clear link between your injury and a particular incident and someone, an individual, a business or government department whose negligence was to blame.
Pure comparative negligence rules
In Mississippi, the law allows for shared fault cases through its pure comparative negligence rule. Although you are normally advised by your attorney never to admit fault, it sometimes transpires that your injury was not entirely someone else’s fault. The shared negligence ruling allows you to obtain a percentage of compensation according to a determination by the court.
Compensation through a personal injury claim is typically more generous than through a workers’ compensation claim. You can claim for what are called ‘non-economic’ damages, which you cannot for a workers’ comp. claim. These include things like:
- compensation for the pain and suffering experienced ;
- loss of consortium;
- property damage;
- loss of enjoyment of life;
- mental anguish;
- punitive damages (only if the degree of negligence is severe).
Personal injury claims not only rely on proving negligence and efficient and complete documentation, they also rely on the at-fault party having sufficient insurance, or any insurance at all. For example, if you are a pedestrian on a Jackson sidewalk who is hit by a car, you would need to know not only who the driver was but what their insurance provider was. Unfortunately, not all drivers in Mississippi are insured. Some have no insurance and others are underinsured. That may be illegal, and they may face a criminal charge for not having insurance, but that doesn’t help you when you have mouths to feed, mortgage repayments to make and hospital bills to pay.
Contact the Diaz Law Firm if injured in Jackson
The best advice if you have been injured through an accident that was not your fault is to contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at the Diaz Law Firm to discuss the circumstances of your injury and what legal options you have. Contact the Diaz Law Firm office on 601-607-3456.