Difference Between Personal Injury & Workers Compensation Law in NYC

 Injured on the job, or know someone who has been? Want to know whether you should file for worker’s compensation or personal injury? Did you know that in New York State, you might be able to file for both? Keep reading for a quick but thorough analysis of the differences between worker’s compensation lawsuits and personal injury lawsuits.

Fault Comparison: Injury Vs Workers Comp Law

The most important distinction between personal injury claims and worker’s compensation claims is the issue of fault. While worker’s compensation claims can be made without assigning any fault, personal injury claims require that someone be at fault, usually for negligence.

Worker’s Compensation Claim: No Fault Required

When it comes to worker’s comp, any employee injured on the job is entitled to worker’s compensation according to NY laws. These benefits are given regardless of fault. Even if your own negligence led to your injury, you are still entitled to benefits. The limited exceptions to this rule in New York State are if the employee’s own drug or alcohol use led to the injury, or if the employee had intended to cause harm to others.

Personal Injury Claim: Fault Required

As opposed to cases of worker’s comp, in a personal injury case, you must establish that the property owner (or whoever you are suing with your injury lawyer) is at fault, usually for negligence.

What is negligence? In more technical terms, negligence is the breach of one’s “duty of care,” the responsibility of one person to avoid causing harm to another. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff will have to show how the defendant did not fulfill that responsibility, which led to the plaintiff’s injury.

For example, in a classic slip-and-fall case, the plaintiff has to demonstrate that his fall was caused by the defendant’s negligence in maintaining his or her property, and that this led to the injury.

Compensation Comparison: Injury Vs Workers Comp Law

Worker’s Comp: The Basics

In a worker’s compensation claim, the worker can be compensated for medical expenses, weekly wages that are lost, permanent impairment benefits and rehabilitation. However, damages due to pain and suffering and the like cannot be claimed.

Personal Injury Claim: More Damages

If you are able to prove fault in a personal injury suit, you are entitled to more benefits over and above the ones included in a golden worker’s compensation lawsuit, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.  

Who Can You Sue?

In a worker’s compensation case, you’ll obviously be suing your employer.  Interestingly, however, unless your case falls into a rare category, you’ll be unable to sue your employer for a personal injury suit. The exception to this rule is if the employer acted intentionally to cause an injury (not mere negligence), or if you are a crewmember on a boat or work for an interstate railroad.

Sometimes in a workplace injury there can be a third party involved, like a contractor. If the third party is the one whose negligence led to the worker’s injury, it is possible that the injured worker could file both a worker’s comp suit and a personal injury suit against the third party. This is obviously a complicated scenario, and requires an injury or accident lawyer with relevant experience to file and litigate these lawsuits correctly.

What Type of Lawyer Should I Use?

In either type of suit, you want to use the best local lawyer at your disposal, with relevant experience in the type of lawsuit you are filing. The defendant’s lawyers (or insurance company lawyers) are likely to be aggressive and persistent in trying to save their client as much money as possible. Therefore, you need someone on your side who has the experience and know-how to advocate for you and get you the best result possible.

A Few Precautions

If one is in the process of filing a worker’s compensation or personal injury claim, one should be very careful with what he or she posts to social media. This information can be taken and manipulated by the insurance company’s lawyers to fight against your case. Make sure that anything you post on social media during the duration of your lawsuit cannot be shown in a light that would weaken your case. In fact, it would be wise to ask your friends and family to follow this guideline as well when posting pictures or information about you. If this seems a little shocking, that’s because it is. Unfortunately, however, the defense lawyers will like scour social media to find anything they can to weaken your case and reduce your benefit payout.


While there are definite similarities between personal injury and worker’s comp lawsuits, there are essential differences as well. One thing is for certain, however: the injured party should seek the help of an experienced lawyer to advocate for his best interests and attain the best result possible.

This Article Was Contributed By Michal D. Ribowsky Of Ribowsky Law in Queens, NY.

Contact & Directions: 

Ribowsky Law 109-12 Jamaica Ave, Richmond Hill, NY 11418 (718) 659-5333 https://www.mrinjurylawyerny.com/