How Much is my Pain and Suffering Worth in a Worker’s Comp Case?

by George Fogy, Of Counsel Workers/ Workmans Comp Attorney, Goyette & Associates

A big misconception in workers’ compensation (or workers/ workmans comp) cases involves compensability for “pain & suffering”. I am often asked by my clients “how much will I get for my pain and suffering?” Unfortunately, the answer is “nothing”. Workers’ Compensation does not compensate injured workers for pain & suffering; settlement is based on the injured worker’s residual permanent disability which is a percentage figure corresponding to a statutorily preset amount of money. In other words, ultimately it does not matter what body part is injured. If the percentage of residual permanent disability is the same, the amount of money due to the injured worker is a constant. For example, a worker with a knee injury that rates at 10% will receive the same amount of money as a worker with hearing loss at 10% (assuming of course that age, occupational variant and average weekly wage between the workers is the same).

Not all is lost however. In instances when the worker’s injury was caused by the negligence of someone not employed by the same employer (usually called a “third party”), then the injured worker has the option of pursuing both a wk comp case and a civil case. The advantage, of course, is that in a civil case the injured worker can recover all damages, including pain & suffering, future wage loss, etc. These types of scenarios are sometimes hard to identify by both the injured worker and her workers/ workmans comp attorney. Due to applicable statute of limitations it is therefore important that the injured worker has someone who understands both wk comp and personal injury law take a look at the case, particularly at how the injury happened.

The bottom line is as follows: injured workers should not assume the only option available is pursuing a workers/ workmans comp case. Instead seek the advice of an attorney trained in both personal injury and wk comp law. They are experts at spotting potential additional avenues of recovery not usually recognizable by injured workers or wk comp attorneys. When in doubt, call an expert. I am always available to answer questions in this area of law at no cost and no obligation to the caller. 916-851-1900.