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An injured employee has the option of filing either a worker’s compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Before doing so, it is important to know the differences between the two options.

Since workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, under workers’ compensation laws, an injured employee can file a claim and receive benefits as long as the employee was injured on the job or within the course and scope of employment. It does not matter that the worker was careless when injured.

To recover damages in a Personal injury lawsuit, on the other hand, the injured party, or plaintiff, must prove that another person, or defendant, was at fault when he or she caused plaintiff’s injury. Also, unlike workers’ compensation, the class of people who may file a claim is not limited to injured employees. Anyone who has suffered damages due to the negligence of another may bring a personal injury lawsuit.

Another difference between worker’s compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits has to do with attorney costs and fees. Workers’ compensation attorneys typically charge on a contingency fee basis. In California, the workers’ compensation judge authorizes a fee of 10%, 12%, or 15%, according to the intricacy of the claim. Personal injury attorneys, on the other hand, are entitled to receive one-third of the settlement award if the case settles before the lawsuit is filed.

An injured employee may sue for damages for his or her injuries under several situations, including the following:

  • When the employee was injured by a toxic substance, such as asbestos, silica, or radium. In this case, the injured employee may want to consider bringing a toxic tort lawsuit against the manufacturer of that substance.
  • When the employee was injured because of an employer’s intentional or outrageous conduct. In this case, the injured employee may want to consider bringing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.
  • When the employee was injured by a third party. If this occurs, the employee may want to consider bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the third party.
  • When the employee was injured by a defective product, such as a machine or equipment. In this case, the injured employee may want to consider bringing a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the product.
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