Does Workers’ Comp Pay for Pain and Suffering?
If you are injured on the job, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover your medical expenses, ongoing treatment, and any lost wages for while you are unable to work. However, in some cases, you might wonder if you can also be covered for pain and suffering, especially if your pain is long-lasting or even permanent following your accident. It’s important to understand the laws surrounding workers’ compensation and your legal rights.
Can You Claim Pain and Suffering Under Workers’ Comp?
In general, workers’ compensation does not allow you to claim damages for pain and suffering. Workers’ comp is based on the rules specified by the state. All states rely on a no fault system under workers’ compensation. According to this system, and the fact that workers’ comp is an elective process, if you choose to file a workers’ compensation claim you essentially waive your right to sue for pain and suffering. Under a workers’ comp claim, you are only receiving compensation for the injury or illness that you sustained while on the job.
What if Your Pain and Suffering is Caused by a Third Party at Work?
If your injury was caused by a third party while you were working, you may be able to get compensation for pain and suffering you have experienced. The third party must be someone other than your employer. In addition to a coworker, that individual could be an independent contractor or even the manufacturer of a piece of equipment you used that caused your injury. In that scenario, you would file for workers’ compensation through your employer because your injuries were caused while on the job, but you would also file a separate personal injury lawsuit against the third party that includes pain and suffering as damages.
When is Pain and Suffering Recoverable Under Workers’ Comp?
In some cases, it is actually possible to recover for pain and suffering under workers’ compensation. One of the scenarios in which you might be able to get pain and suffering with your workers’ comp claim is if you don’t file under the state, which consists of limited laws. Instead, you would have to file your workers’ comp claim under the Federal Employee Liability Act. However, it’s important to note that this is technically not workers’ comp per se and is in place specifically for railroad workers. In addition, some states such as California also allow people to claim for emotional distress within their workers’ compensation claims. Such claims are usually difficult to win and are generally only successful if the employer deliberately caused the emotional distress.
Another way you could receive pain and suffering under a workers’ compensation claim is if your work-related injury has directly led to a mental or emotional disorder. In other words, if you have been diagnosed with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder that stems from your injury, it is possible to recover benefits.
If you believe you have a legitimate claim for pain and suffering along with your workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to know your rights. Contact an experienced lawyer, like trusted Nassau County workers compensation attorneys, to find out more about your legal options.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. for their insight into workers compensation law.