Workplace Injuries: Workers Compensation v. Civil Lawsuit

Workplace illnesses and injuries can create tremendous physical, emotional, and financial stress for injured workers.  If you have been hurt at work, you may be confused about your options for obtaining compensation from your employer.  In most cases, benefits and medical expenses are covered by Oklahoma Workers Compensation.  In some cases, however, an injured worker may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against an employer whose negligence makes the company liable for any injuries. So how do you know whether you should file a workers' compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit? In either case, it is generally in your best interest to consult an attorney who is experienced at handling both workers' compensation claims and civil litigation.  From your initial consultation, your lawyer can determine your eligibility and create a plan to help you get the benefits and compensation you need and deserve. In general, workers' compensation is available to employees who suffer and injury or illness that arises out of the course of employment.  This does not mean that the employer is at-fault for the injury, nor does it mean that every accident occurring on the premises of the job is eligible for workers' compensation.  Illnesses, injuries, and medical conditions created by or exacerbated by working conditions may include heart attack, lung disease, hearing loss, vision loss, back injury, repetitive strain injury, accumulated trauma injury, broken bones, lacerations, strains, sprains, and more.  Permanent and Temporary disability benefits may include:

  • Medical expenses for current and future medical care of the illness or injury
  • Income benefits at 70% of an employee's average weekly wage
  • Benefits for any injury requiring more than three days off work for recuperation
  • Death benefits for surviving spouses and dependents
The Oklahoma Workers Compensation Act provides workers with needed relief following a workplace injury without having to prove an employer's liability. This act also protects employers from unnecessary litigation.  However, if an employer's negligence or carelessness causes or contributes to an injury accident, the injured worker may be able to find compensation beyond workers comp benefits through a personal injury lawsuit.  In addition to medical expenses, rehabilitation, and income benefits, a personal injury lawsuit may bring financial compensation for pain and suffering and other non-financial ramifications of an injury or death.  A skilled attorney can help determine your best course of action following a work-related injury, illness, or death.