Can You Sue If You Accept Work Comp?

Work Comp Q&A: Can You Sue If You Accept Workers' Comp?

If a worker is injured on the job or develops a work-related illness, they may be able to receive benefits through workers' comp insurance. However, this compensation may be inadequate for some workers, which may lead some individuals to pursue litigation to get what they feel they deserve for their injury. This raises the obvious question:

Can you sue if you accept workers’ compensation?

Table of Contents

To answer this question and broaden your understanding of workers' compensation, we’ll answer four of the most commonly asked questions:

Can you sue if you accept workers' comp benefits?
What is not covered by workers' comp settlements?
Should I consult a professional about my workers’ comp claim?
If workers' compensation does not cover my financial needs, what will?

Be aware that workers’ compensation can be a complex topic for many who aren’t familiar with state-specific rules and the legal process. That’s where an independent insurance agent can help by providing definitive answers that relate to your unique circumstances, as well as providing unbiased advice on alternative insurance coverage to protect your finances and your family. 

Can you sue if you accept workers' comp benefits?

In most cases, the answer is no. By accepting workers' comp benefits, you waive your right to sue your employer for further damages. This is known as a "compensation bargain," which protects injured employees and employers from devastating financial losses through the judicial system. One of the main drawbacks of suing an employer is that it can often take years to get a case settled or to even be tried in court. Because of this, an injured employee may still not be able to work and receive any income, as well as having to pay their own medical bills.

Workers' compensation operates as a “no-fault system,” so it views injuries on the job as unavoidable aspect of a work relationship. Therefore, there is no need to prove that an employer, or someone employed by the employer, caused a worker's injury. Considering that more than three-quarters of workers' compensation cases are approved, the system can help avoid costly litigation and potentially years spent in court. 

However, if there are some details of your case that you believe may entitle you to more compensation, contact a licensed legal professional who is qualified to look into your particular situation. If a third party was responsible in some way for causing a work-related injury, you may have a separate cause of action against that individual or company. If it is decided that the person or entity you are suing was negligent in a way that led to your losses, you can be awarded a settlement in addition to workers' comp benefits. 

Bear in mind that if a worker is awarded compensation in a lawsuit against a third party for things like medical coverage or loss of wages, the workers’ comp insurer may attempt to recover some of the money that they receive through litigation. Considering that workers’ comp covered a worker's medical bills and wage losses, the insurer may attempt to make a claim against an injured worker to recover that money paid out. 

What is not covered by workers' comp settlements?

Workers’ compensation settlements are designed to help injured workers recuperate, providing compensation for lost wages, medical bills, treatment, vocational rehabilitation and training, and more. 

However, workers' comp settlements do not apply to all the damages that a worker may believe they are entitled to. An employee does not get money from workers’ compensation insurance for pain and suffering caused by an injury or illness. Furthermore, if it is determined that you were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, caused harm to yourself, or were acting outside of your employment — such as horseplay or engaging in tasks that you weren’t qualified for — you may not be covered by workers' compensation at all. 

Should I consult a professional about my workers’ comp claim?

In nearly every case, the answer is yes. Workers' compensation cases can be complex and involve numerous factors that may result in different amounts of settlements. Considering that the average settlement amount for a workers’ comp claim is only $21,800, you may feel that you are entitled to more compensation. Or you may have submitted a workers’ comp claim only to have it be denied by your state’s workers' comp board. 

Whatever the reason, finding a lawyer who is licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where your injury occurred  is a wise decision. Furthermore, an independent insurance agent can help answer some of your questions about typical outcomes that are related to your case, possible insurance alternatives, and more.

If workers' compensation does not cover my financial needs, what will?

The truth is that workers’ compensation is designed to help injured employees return to the workforce or compensate individuals with a permanent disability for the remainder of their life. 

Of course, many individuals will find that workers' compensation benefits may not be enough to cover their cost of living and financial goals in the long term. In order to be able to anticipate these financial challenges, it helps to have insurance and investments set aside to provide a more stable future and retirement. You should discuss the following policies and investments with an independent insurance agent:

  • Life insurance: Provides income to your family in the event that you are unable to work or become deceased. 
  • Long-term care (LTC) disability insurance: Policies that help take care of your basic needs if you are unable to perform these without the help of a healthcare professional. 
  • Annuities: Designed as a type of life insurance policy, annuities provide regular income in exchange for paying a premium over a period of time or through a lump-sum transfer. 
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