After starting the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim after a workplace accident that caused injuries, you might wonder if you can get pain and suffering with workers’ compensation. The answer depends on whether your pain and suffering affect your ability to work.
The term “pain and suffering,” frequently used in civil personal injury cases, refers to non-economic damages, such as emotional distress, that you incur from your accident. In general, workers’ compensation programs do not include benefits for noneconomic damages, so you would not receive pain and suffering compensation from the state’s workers’ compensation insurance program. However, if you can show that your pain and suffering impact your ability to work, either psychologically or physically, it could translate into medical or disability benefits.
You could also have other ways of pursuing non-economic damages, including pain and suffering—especially if you can show that negligence contributed to your injury. When your injuries result from someone else’s negligence, you could hold them personally responsible for what happened. One example is if your injury occurred because of a third party’s negligence and not necessarily the fault of your employer.
If you want to see if filing a personal injury lawsuit for pain and suffering is a possible strategy, you can discuss your situation with a workers’ compensation or personal injury lawyer.
Statute of Limitations
According to the California Labor Code (LAB) §5400, you have 30 days from the date you suffered your injury to complete certain paperwork related to your potential workers’ compensation claim. This requirement includes letting your employer know about your injury and filing the relevant documentation. Then, you have one year from the date of the incident to file a formal workers’ compensation claim. Even so, you would benefit from beginning the process as soon as possible to give yourself enough time to take care of all the paperwork and allow for appeals if the assigned claims administrator rejects your claim.
Workers’ Compensation Laws in California
The workers’ compensation program covers all employees in California when they suffer from work-related injuries that they did not intentionally inflict on themselves. According to LAB §3600, your work duties must have “proximately caused” the injury, proven by your medical records. You generally cannot receive compensation for pre-existing conditions unless you can prove your work duties aggravated your condition, causing a new injury.
Understanding Your Rights
You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in California if you suffer injuries at work while on the clock. Whether your employer ran a safe workplace or was negligent does not affect your eligibility. If your injuries result from a third party’s negligence, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party as a civil case.
Any benefits that you receive must relate directly to the economic problems associated with your injuries and not noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering. However, this can slightly change based on your permanent disability status. According to the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), subjective factors can impact your permanent disability claim, such as a doctor’s description of your pain. In this case, you would receive additional benefits because of your pain; however, this award would not fall under pain and suffering compensation under your workers’ compensation plan.
Reasons to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
You could choose to manage the entire workers’ compensation claims process on your own, without the assistance of a lawyer. Depending on the extent of your injuries and claims, you might feel comfortable doing this. However, many injured workers hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to represent their interests and file appropriate paperwork after an injury. Not only does this allow them to focus on their healing, but it removes the worry about filling out paperwork correctly or missing an important deadline.
If a third party caused your injuries through a negligent act, you could hold that party accountable through a civil personal injury lawsuit. You could pursue this suit separately from your workers’ compensation claim.
In this situation, your workers’ compensation lawyer can also serve as your personal injury lawyer and bring your claims through the court system. Not all workers’ compensation cases could use this as a tactic. You can consult an attorney to see if you could take this path and if it would help in your specific case.
Call to Schedule a Free Consultation
Unfortunately, it is not possible to get pain and suffering with workers’ compensation in most situations. However, if your pain and suffering affect your ability to work, you could receive benefits related to this effect.
If you have any questions about how workers’ compensation works in California and your legal rights, you can contact the office of a workers’ compensation lawyer for advice. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 529-9122 to schedule a free consultation and see how we can help. We can provide you the answers you need to make an informed decision.