The benefits paid by California workers' compensation insurance funds are based on a "no-fault" system, meaning that an injured worker does not have to prove anybody at fault. After a workplace injury, regardless of whose fault it was, the insurance fund will commonly compensate the worker for medical expenses incurred, along with lost wages -- calculated according to last salary earned. No additional damages will be covered, which means that pain and suffering is not compensable through the workers' comp system.
In comparison, a personal injury claim is based on negligence. If a worker suffers injuries while on duty by the hand of another party who is not an employee of the same company, he or she may be entitled to file a personal injury claim in a civil court. For example, if an on-duty worker is knocked down by a vehicle driven by an employee of another company, he or she may have a viable civil claim. This is regardless whether the accident occurs on or off the work site.
For such a claim to be successful, negligence has to be proved. A third party claim may be filed in addition to the workers' compensation claim, and the injured worker will be entitled to claim compensation for pain and suffering, future financial damages and any additional damages as allowed by state law. The employee of the other company, along with the owner of the vehicle may be named as defendants in a third party claim.
However, there is an interaction between these two systems that is complex and may be intimidating to the victim of a workplace injury. Rest assured though, as you are free to retain the services of a California attorney who focuses on protecting the rights of workers. Such a professional will leave no stone unturned to obtain the maximum compensation to ensure your financial stability. A visit to our workers' compensation website may provide answers to any questions you may have.