If you or someone you know has been hurt on the job in Nevada, there may be two avenues available to seek monetary compensation for injuries suffered - a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. While many people may believe that these two types of cases are interchangeable, they are, in fact, very different from one another.
Workers’ Compensation Explained
Workers’ compensation is a insurance benefit program aimed at compensating workers who are injured while working or who become sick due to the work environment. State law mandates that Nevada workers with one or more employees purchase workers’ compensation insurance. An injured employee may file a claim for workers’ compensation to offset the costs of medical treatment and lost wages from the on-the-job injury or illness. Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, the hurt employee need not establish fault to seek benefits. Likewise, it does not matter if the employee or even a third party was at fault for the harm as this fact will not preclude payment of workers’ compensation benefits.
There are several benefits to which an injured employee may be entitled through a successful workers’ compensation claim such as lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, medical bills, temporary or permanent partial disability, and temporary or permanent total disability.
Personal Injury Lawsuits Explained
A personal injury lawsuit, on the other hand, is a legal action that is filed in court seeking monetary compensation for an injury caused by the negligence of another. The case may be settled prior to seeing the inside of a courtroom or may be tried in front of a jury. Proving the other party was negligent and therefore, at fault for the injuries is vital in a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff must prove the defendant owed a legal duty to him or her, this duty was breached, the breach was the legal and proximate cause of the injury, and the victim suffered damages as a result of the harm.
Damages that a personal injury victim may recover if successful include compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.
There are also several differences procedurally between a Nevada workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit.
A Nevada workers’ compensation claim begins when the injured worker lets his or her employer know that there has been an on-the-job injury. Then, the employer will provide the appropriate forms. There are specific time frames during which documents must be completed—by you and/or an assigned workers’ compensation doctor—and returned to the insurance company. The time frame is typically 90 days from the date of your initial medical evaluation. Once the insurer receives the documentation, it is under specific deadlines to make a decision on the claim. If your Nevada workers’ compensation claim is denied, you can appeal the decision but must do so within 70 days.
A Nevada personal injury lawsuit, on the other hand, must be filed in a Nevada court. The injured victim will serve the at-fault party the lawsuit, providing an opportunity to file his or her own documents with the court. Then there is an evidence-gathering phase of the case that is done in preparation for trial. During this timeframe, the case may or may not settle. If the parties cannot resolve the case during settlement negotiations, the matter will proceed to trial.
Legal Help in Nevada
If you have been hurt in a work-related accident in Nevada, or have suffered personal injury in Nevada outside of the work-place, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Parry & Pfau. We can help you understand the difference between these two types of cases and help evaluate your situation to determine the best options for you.
(image courtesy of Christopher Burns)