In Louisiana, when an individual sustains an injury arising out of and in the course of employment, worker's compensation is the exclusive remedy against his employer. What does this mean? It means that typically an employer will not be held accountable for pain and suffering damages. That being said, if an employer intentionally harmed the employee, then they may be held liable under a regular personal injury law suit.
That being said, the following are several major differences between a personal injury law suit and a worker's compensation claim.
In a worker's compensation case, it is usually not necessary to determine who is at fault in an accident. In a personal injury case, fault is a critical issue to be determined. In fact, in a personal injury case, if there is a strongly disputed issue of fault, the case will usually go to trial. As a an injured worker, even if your injury was caused by your own negligence or fault, you may still be eligible for benefits and compensation.
One of the first major differences between a worker's compensation claim and a personal injury is that worker's compensation claims are limited in damages. In a personal injury case, the list of damages are extensive. Some specific damages in a personal injury case are:
(1.) Pain and suffering;
(2.) Lost Wages;
(3.) Medical Expenses;
(4.) Mental anguish;
(5.) Permanent Disfigurement; and
(6.) Loss of Consortium.
The list goes on.
In a worker's compensation case, the compensation is typically limited to two thirds of an employee's weekly wage for total and permanent disability up to a statutory maximum amount. In addition, medical expenses should be covered along with permanent impairment benefits and/or vocation rehabilitation. Worker's compensation does not cover pain and suffering.
That being said, if there is a negligent third party who is involved, that worker may be able to recover pain and suffering from the third party. It is possible to have both a personal injury case and a pending working comp case at the same time.
Each case is unique and has its own set of facts. This is why if you have been injured on the job, you should consult with an attorney immediately. At The Law Office of Jon G. Bethune, L.L.C., we offer our clients hands-on, comprehensive and communicative legal services. If you were injured on the job call us at (504) 218-8570 to set up your initial consultation.