The law does not treat being injured on the job in the same way as being injured somewhere while off-duty, such as being rear-ended at a stop sign, or tripping over a ripped doormat at the local U-Sack-Em. An injured worker generally cannot sue her employer in a tort claim and have a jury award millions of dollars for her injuries. (Likewise, the legislature has placed a cap on attorney’s fees in workers’ compensation cases – no paying your attorney 35-40% of your recovery as in tort claims.)
Injured workers are not entitled to jury trials for workers’ compensation claims. Disputes are decided by a workers’ compensation judge in a workers’ compensation court in which the rules of evidence are a little more relaxed than in district court. On a positive note, however, unlike personal injury claims, in workers’ compensation claims the injured worker does not have to prove “fault” at trial.
The workers’ compensation system is not really designed to make the injured worker completely “whole,” as in that auto accident, but is designed to somewhat compensate the injured employee, while at the same time keeping employers from going bankrupt every time an employee cuts his finger, or bumps his head on a doorframe through no fault of the employer.
To read more Workers’ Compensation Basics, click here.