You are not directly compensated for your pain in a workers’ compensation claim. By contrast, if you sustained the same injuries in a car crash, the other driver would owe you compensation for the lifetime of pain and suffering he caused. Why then are injured workers not similarly compensated? It is due to the significant differences in these compensation systems.
If you file suit against a driver who injured you, your case is based upon what we lawyers call the common law “tort” system. This system has developed largely through our courts. It requires that an injured party prove that the other party’s negligence caused the injuries in question. In other words, you have to prove that the other party was “at fault” for your injuries. The workers’ compensation system, however, was a legislative compromise between employers, insurers, and injured workers. After the passage of these laws, injured workers no longer had to prove their employers were at fault, or that their negligence had caused the employee’s injuries. Workers’ compensation became a ‘no fault’ system, making it much easier to claim compensation. In exchange for this easier system, employers obtained caps on compensation limiting the amounts and types of compensation they have to pay. One example is that they do not owe separate sums of money for your pain.
While you are not entitled to be compensated directly for your pain, the proper presentation of your workers’ compensation case will require your attorney to have the court fully understand how your pain impacts your ability to live and work. Thus, although you are not directly compensated for your pain, it is still indirectly compensable based on how it impacts you as a worker.