Law Office of James M. Hoffmann Articles The Differences Between Personal Injury and Workers Comp Cases

The Differences Between Personal Injury and Workers Comp Cases

By James Hoffmann  Aug. 2, 2018 3:46p

You have probably heard about these two legal concepts before, but with no background in law, you might not know much about them. First, let’s go over their definition. A personal injury case is when a person sustains an injury and believes another party was at fault. They can sue that other party for a variety of damages and get their due compensation. Workers’ compensation is a system that is in place specifically for workplace injuries that replaces the personal injury protocol. One thing to note is that even though these are two different types of cases, they are often handled by the same law office. There is a good chance your St. Louis workers compensation attorney is also a personal injury lawyer. Below, we explain the critical differences between these two claims point by point.

Assigning Fault

The pivotal difference between these two cases is that personal injury cases assign blame, while workers’ compensation does not. An example of a personal injury case could be a driver getting into an accident with another driver that is texting. This driver can be found at fault due to their distraction from the road, and be liable. In a workers’ comp case, there is no fault. Your employer may decide to pay you a certain sum for your injury, but they will not be officially found at fault.


Workers’ compensation claims are generally be much simpler than personal injury. It is mandated by the law that employers must have an official compensation process. This process is supposed to be straight forward. However, this is not always the case. You will still want to speak with an attorney to ensure you are getting the best deal, but the steps you take throughout may be easier to understand. In a personal injury case, the path forward is not so simple.


Workers’ compensation has a limited number of benefits available, and you can only receive payment for specific kinds of damage. In a personal injury case, you have more flexibility to seek compensation for other damages, such as emotional suffering.

The Default Choice

If you are injured in the workplace, you will need to file a workers’ compensation case almost every time. The workers’ comp system is meant to replace personal injury lawsuits, so working outside of it is rare.

When You Can Sue

One possible exception to this default choice is if your employer was extremely negligent. If you are injured while carrying out a regular job activity, this will not apply. Alternatively, if your employer does something exceedingly unsafe that causes your injury, you might be able to sue. The best way to determine this is by talking to a lawyer.

If you are injured at work, you might be wondering if you can sue for personal injury. The answer to your question is likely “no,” but there are some critical exceptions that you should know. Regardless, understanding these two types of cases will be useful going forward. If you are ever injured at work, it is best to consult with a St. Louis workers compensation lawyer. They will answer all your questions and advise you on how to proceed in obtaining your benefits.

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