Should I File a Personal Injury or a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Have you been injured? If so, particularly if your injury occurred at work, or was the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be wondering whether or not you’re entitled to file a legal claim. Moreover, you may be wondering whether a personal injury claim or a workers’ compensation claim is most appropriate for your circumstances. It’s an important question to ask.

Almost all legal matters can be complex. There’s no question about it. As a result, many distinctions can be drawn between various types of legal claims, including between personal injury and workers’ compensation claims. With that said, it is most important to understand that there are a few primary differences between a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim – location, fault, and benefits.

  • Place of Injury: This may seem an obvious statement, but it’s worth stating the obvious. A workers’ compensation claim must occur at work, or in the course and scope of employment. This essential gateway element must be established, and if the accident didn’t occur at work, or as a result of the work (for example, a coal miner who developed “black lung disease” as a result of continually breathing in coal dust), then it likely won’t qualify for a workers’ compensation claim. 
  • Fault: Perhaps the clearest distinction between a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim is that a personal injury claim involves fault on the part of one party, while a workers’ compensation claim does not.
    • A personal injury claim requires negligence on the part of one party. This essentially means that the person had a duty to act reasonably in a situation – with the necessary care for others. In a car accident, for example, it would not be enough to simply show that you were involved in an accident with another vehicle – you must be able to prove that the driver in question did something wrong, and was at fault in causing the accident in some way.
    • A workers’ compensation claim, by contrast, requires no fault. Generally, workers’ compensation law provides that any time an employee is injured on the job, he or she will qualify to seek workers’ compensation benefits. It is not necessary to prove that a co-worker or an employer did anything wrong in order for an employee to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. 
  • Benefits: Certainly, the ultimate goal of filing any legal claim is to receive the compensation you need and deserve. It’s important to understand, however, that there are certain distinctions between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims in terms of the types of benefits that may be awarded.
    • Workers’ compensation benefits: In a workers’ compensation claim, the injured worker may usually seek benefits for past, present, and future medical expenses, lost wages and lost future earning capacity, benefits for any temporary or permanent impairment found to exist, and in some states, benefits to provide for vocational rehabilitation, if necessary.
    • Benefits available in a personal injury claim: Generally, in a personal injury claim, a more extensive variety of damages may be available than in a workers’ compensation claim. These might include damages for past, present, and future medical expenses, damages for lost wages or lost future earning capacity, damages for loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and depending upon your jurisdiction, damages for “pain and suffering.” Workers’ compensation claims typically do not include pain and suffering damages. 

While these are the essential distinctions between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims, there certainly may be more legal distinctions to keep in mind, depending upon your unique circumstances. That’s why consulting with an attorney who knows and understands both types of claims will be essential as you seek to determine which type of claim you should file. At Roden Law, we’re here to help. 


If you are injured, you may have many questions, and that’s understandable. At Roden Law, we’re here to answer your questions, and help you decide the best legal strategy for your case – so you can focus on your recovery. You deserve to heal and move forward toward a brighter chapter ahead, and we would be honored to be a part of that journey. Whether you end up filing a workers’ compensation claim, or a personal injury lawsuit, we can guide you each step of the way. There’s no day like today to take that first step. If you’re ready to get started, we’re here for you. Give us a call. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

If You Would Like to Learn More About Workers’ Compensation, Click Here.