Do I have a Workers' Comp claim or a Personal Injury Claim?
An injury at work may result in both a Workers' Comp claim and a personal injury claim
There are key differences between a Workers' Compensation claim and a personal injury claim. The biggest difference is where and how the injury happened. Usually, if a person is injured while working or while at work, there will be a Workers' Compensation claim (but not a personal injury claim). But sometimes, a worker can have both kinds of claims.
New Mexico Workers' Compensation law provides workers with disability benefits and medical care if they get hurt on the job or hurt off the job site while performing an official task for their employers. To get those benefits, an injured worker files a claim for workers' compensation benefits (ideally, with the help of an experienced Workers' Compensation attorney) by notifying the employer of the workplace accident. Ordinarily, an injured worker cannot file a lawsuit against the employer for the negligence or wrongful conduct of the employer or a co-worker.
But many injured workers do not know that if their workplace accident was caused by the negligence of someone other than the employer or a co-worker, the injured worker may be able to file a separate claim for personal injury damages.
There are many reasons why it may be a good idea to file a claim for Workers' Comp benefits and a claim for personal injury damages
Benefits of filing a Workers' Comp claim
A worker does not need to prove negligence to obtain Workers' Comp benefits
A worker can receive Workers' Compensation benefits even if the worker was at fault for the workplace accident
an injured worker is entitled to lifetime medical care for the injury
an injured worker does not need to pay for any portion of the cost of medical care for a workplace accident - no copays, no deductibles, nothing
a worker gets paid 2/3 of the worker's average weekly wage while he or she heals from the workplace accident
Benefits of filing a Personal Injury claim for a Workplace Accident
Workers' Compensation does not typically provide payment for pain and suffering, lost enjoyment of life, or other types of "damages" available in personal injury (as a result, a worker who can file both a Workers' Comp claim and a personal injury claim may be able to recover more money for the injuries suffered
Punitive (punishment) damages are not available in Workers' Comp claims. But they are available in Personal Injury claims under the right circumstances. Punitive Damages claims are often the kinds of claims that result in substantial verdicts you read about in the newspaper.
a personal injury claim can be pursued against the at-fault party, as long as the at-fault party is not the employer or a co-worker
Should I file a Workers' Comp claim or a Personal Injury claim?
Why not file both? If you have a valid claim for Workers' compensation benefits and a personal injury claim, you're almost certainly going to be better off if you file a claim for both.
But it gets tricky! Filing a Workers' Comp claim can affect your personal injury case, and vice versa. You may discover that facts related to your Workers' comp claim can hurt the strength of your personal injury case. Or the other way around. And you may discover that some parts of the money you receive from one claim may limit what you can receive in the other. Or you may be asked to pay back some of your Workers' Compensation benefits if you make a recovery in your personal injury case.
Do I need a separate Workers' Compensation lawyer?
Ideally, you should hire an attorney who can bring both your Workers' Compensation claim and your personal injury claim. Having one lawyer who knows both areas of the law will maximize your likelihood of success. And there are tremendous benefits to having one, single lawyer who is working on both parts of your case at the same time. That's why we don't recommend having a personal injury lawyer for your PI claim and a Workers' comp lawyer for your WC claim.
But many personal injury lawyers and law firms don't handle Workers' Compensation claims. And many refuse to even help their clients find a competent, capable Workers' Compensation lawyer to help them. That's why you may benefit from speaking with an experienced, capable Workers' Compensation lawyer at Holmes Law Firm.
This may be true even if you already have a lawyer representing you on your personal injury claim. The lawyers at Holmes Law Firm understand how Personal Injury and Workers' Compensation claims intersect, and they will work hard to ensure you maximize your Workers' Comp benefits without compromising your personal injury claim. And if necessary, Holmes Law Firm will work directly with your Personal Injury lawyer to ensure there are no "crossed wires."
Will I be better off with a lawyer who can handle both my Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury claims together?
You may be wondering whether you would be better off having one lawyer who can handle both parts of your workplace injury claim - the Workers' Comp claim and the personal injury claim. Chances are, the answer is "yes."
Having one lawyer to represent you on both parts of your claim is a good idea because that one lawyer's efforts on one claim can be used to maximize your recover on the other part of the claim. And if only one law office is handling both claims, you don't have to worry about "one hand not knowing what the other is doing."
But the most important part of any decision you make when hiring a lawyer is whether the lawyer is experienced, capable, and effective. Holmes law firm has a demonstrated history of success in both Workers' Compensation, Personal Injury, and related insurance claims. So when you work with Holmes Law Firm, you can be sure you're getting a lawyer who knows you, knows your case, and knows the law and how to maximize your recovery. If you've been hurt at work, contact Holmes Law Firm today.