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What Can You Get in a Workers’ Compensation Claim?


Before I tell you what the benefits are in a workers’ comp claim, let me explain what you could get in a “regular” personal injury claim.  Before workers comp, workplace injuries and illnesses were handled just like any other personal injury case.  The injured worker had to prove that their injury was the result of the employer’s negligence. If you could prove that, then you could get all the things you can get in any other personal injury case:  lost wages, medical care, pain and suffering (and even punitive damages if the boss’s negligence was bad enough).  On the other hand, if you couldn’t prove that the boss caused your injury through his fault (or if the boss could prove that you also were at fault), you got nothing.  Because most work injuries are the result of accidents, in which no one is at fault, most people who were hurt at work got no compensation. However, in those cases in which the employer was liable, he was open to great liability.

To resolve this  “all-or-nothing” problem, employers and employees came to an agreement of sorts. Under workers comp, claims became much simpler to prove.  If an injury was the result of an accident, then it was covered, no matter whose fault it was (it can even be the worker’s fault).  This opened the door to many more claims.  In exchange for allowing so many more claims, employees agreed to accept limited benefitsSo, you cannot get pain and suffering, or consequential  or punitive damages in a workers’ compensation case. Your benefits are limited to medical care and lost wages.

What does that mean in real terms? It may not seem fair, but under workers comp, we can’t force the employer or the insurance company to pay you for the fact that your pain keeps you from playing softball or soccer, or picking up and swinging  your child around, or doing other recreational things that you used to do.  On the other hand, if your pain keeps you from working, you can get benefits for lost wages.  And you can get medical care and vocational rehabilitation to help you get back to work.

Now, I must tell you that employers and insurance companies will often try to limit even the limited benefits that an injured worker should get.  If you think you’re not getting the benefits the law says you should get, please give me a call.  919-683-2175.    



About ken

I've been practicing law in Durham, NC for more than 30 years now. I focus on traffic cases, personal injury and workers compensation. I graduated from Wake Forest University in 1980 with a BA in political science. I went to Mercer University for law school, graduating in 1983. I began practicing in Durham the next year, and I have been here ever since.

Initially, I did just about any kind of case that came in the door. However, it's hard to get good at any area if you're trying to do them all. So, I settled on personal injury, workers compensation and traffic cases.

I am married and have two sons in their 20's. My wife is a physical therapist. We also have four pets -- a Havanese dog named Blitzen, a tabby calico cat named Donner, a black cat named Olive, and a gray tabby named The Rum Tum Tugger.

I hope to hear from you!

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