Can You Get Pain and Suffering Damages in a Workers Compensation Case?
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
No. As a worker’s comp lawyer, I am often asked, “Can you get pain and suffering from workers comp?” Unfortunately, there is no gray area here. The answer is always no.
Four Types of Workers Comp Benefits
There are only four categories of benefits in a workers compensation case:
Temporary Disability Benefits: Wage replacement which is paid weekly until you return to work or reach medical end result.
Medical Benefits: If your doctor sends the correct documentation and bills, medical bills for the work injury are paid in full to the doctor
Vocational Rehabilitation: If you cannot return to your job and cannot find a new job making the same amount because of the work injury, you may be entitled to work with a vocational counselor to get more training or education
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: Paid after you reach medical end result. The amount paid for permanent partial disability is based on a formula that takes into consideration the amount of your weekly pay, whether your injury is to the spine (back or neck), and the seriousness of the injury. The amount is not very much, typically between $1,000 and $30,000. There is no payment for pain and suffering.
So why do many people think they are eligible to receive compensation for pain and suffering?
Because in personal injury cases, a person can be awarded pain and suffering. But personal injury cases and workers comp are two entirely different things. Here’s why.
In a personal injury case, you can receive compensation only if you can prove another party’s negligence caused your injury. Proving negligence is hard and can take years. No compensation is awarded until after a trial or a settlement. The compensation can include different types of damages including lost wages, costs for medical care, pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life. There are many situations where people are injured but they cannot prove negligence. In those case, the injured person receives no compensation.
An Historic Look at Workers Comp
When our country became industrialized, workers were seen as contributing to the good of the country. There was a desire to encourage people to enter the workforce and to provide compensation if they were hurt while working. Thus, a compromise was made. Workmans compensation laws established that any person hurt while working would be entitled to immediate compensation, but the amount and type of compensation would be limited.
Benefit of Workers Comp
The main benefit in workers comp cases is that the medical bills for the work injury are paid in full. In addition, workers receive wage replacement benefits known as "Temporary Disability" if they cannot work during their treatment and recovery.
If the worker cannot return to work or find another job because of the injury they may get vocational rehabilitation benefits, and if the injury is serious they may receive Permanent Disability benefits.
Although there is often significant pain and suffering and emotional distress in workmans comp cases, these damages are not considered.
Were you injured at work?
Do you want to make sure you are awarded the compensation you are eligible to receive?