When you incur a personal injury at work, you obtain workers’ compensation payments. You may also access personal injury benefits in certain situations.
When you incur an injury involving a third party, you typically receive a personal injury settlement. In the case of workplace injuries, workers comp applies first and foremost. For you to access your workers’ comp coverage, you only need to have incurred a work-related injury, but to access personal injury benefits your employer or another employee or vendor, etc. must be at fault. That means the third party had to either intend you harm or they had to be negligent.
As long as you were injured at work, you get workers’ comp. If you were injured in a situation where the third party was at fault, you can sue for pain and suffering. The latter can also include an award for special compensatory damages such as costs for canceled trips, household expenses, hiring people to do work for you that you would have done yourself, but could not. A third-party refers to a client, vendor, etc.
You cannot sue both your employer for personal injury and collect workers’ comp through them even if they caused you intentional harm. You must choose one or the other. You may not do both.
If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of your injury, you cannot claim personal injury. If the party who caused your injury was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of your injury, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them. If your employer does not legally have to carry workers’ comp insurance, so you cannot file a claim under it, you may sue for personal injury.
The Settlement Types
Your personal injury settlement, if there is one, could come in one of two common forms – annuity or lump sum payment. Until recently, receiving a one-time payment proved most common.
Today, it is more common for an individual to receive payment via an annuity in large tort claims. This choice provides a steady stream of income in a fixed amount paid in a similar fashion as retirees from an annuity or IRA. A settlement paid as an annuity ensures that an individual avoids the risk of outliving their settlement income after losing the ability to continue with their initial career. It also ensures they cannot waste the money on things they do not need, then have anything with which to pay bills.
An annuity helps the defendant, too, since most cannot afford to pay a lump sum payment even through their insurance coverage. Paying over the long-term also costs less because the costs depend on inflation.
In many cases, you can apply for pre-settlement funding which works a bit like a cash advance. You repay it from your settlement. It does provide a lump sum payment that lets you fund your medical treatments and pay bills while you wait for the legal proceedings to finish. These complex issues are best dealt with by a personal injury lawyer who closely works with you and can help you navigate the financial hurdles.