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The Difference between Workers’ Compensation and a Personal Injury Claim

Why Your Client Needs an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

As an attorney, regardless of your area of practice, you’ll likely encounter a client who has suffered an injury on the job. It may not be your area of expertise, so you may assume that any personal injury lawyer can handle the matter. That’s not necessarily true—the workers’ compensation system has it own rules and procedures and functions very differently from most other personal injury claims.

At the law office of Pyrros & Serres, we have more than 50 years of collective experience dedicated to effectively handling workers’ compensation claims. We’ve prepared this series of blogs to help other attorneys assess whether to refer a client to a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer.

The Unique Aspects of a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Unlike most types of personal injury, workers’ compensation benefits are statutory, a part of what is known as the “great bargain.” They are designed to streamline the process for both injured workers and employers. For workers, benefits can be available in a number of weeks, unlike a civil suit for damages, where an injured person may wait months or years to see any remuneration. For employers, there’s the benefit of a relatively fixed formula for determining benefits–workers’ compensation payments are calculated as a percentage of the injured employee’s “average weekly wage (AWW).” For that reason, an employer doesn’t have the concern that a sympathetic jury will return an exorbitant damage award.

As a general rule, workers’ compensation claims are not filed and are not heard in the civil courts, but through the Workers’ Compensation Board and by specialized workers’ compensation judges or referees. Furthermore, the initial appeals in a workers’ compensation dispute are handled within the workers’ compensation system, not in the civil courts.

With respect to the treatment an injured worker can have covered by a workers’ compensation claim, there are Medical Treatment Guidelines that must be followed, except when a worker requires emergency medical treatment.

It’s important, though, to understand that an injured worker can often file a workers’ compensation and a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Workers’ compensation is designed to cover only the wrongful acts of an employer or a co-worker. If you suffer an injury caused by an unrelated third party—the manufacturer of a dangerous or defective tool or machine, or the driver of a motor vehicle—you can bring a separate action for those losses. However, you can’t recover twice for the same loss—if workers’ compensation pays your medical bills, you can’t recover a damage award for those same bills in a civil suit.

Effective Workers’ Compensation Lawyers—Queens | New York City

At Pyrros & Serres, we offer more than 50 year of combined workers’ compensation experience to injured workers throughout the greater NYC area, including the borough of Queens. We built our reputation on a commitment to the highest levels of personal service and attention, making certain we know the details of your injury, so that we can fully protect your rights. We work closely with colleagues in the legal profession, offering our experience, skills, knowledge and resources to your clients who have been hurt on the job.

We handle all types of work injury cases, including claims involving:

Occupational Illness or Disease | Back and Neck Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) | Fractures | Burns | Paralysis | Spinal Cord Injury | Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement | Amputation or Loss of Limb | Shoulder, Arm, Hand and Finger Injury | Hip, Leg, Foot and Toe Injury | Hearing or Vision Loss | Accidental Death

To learn more about the full scope of our practice, see our practice area overview page.

Pyrros & Serres LLP

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys—Queens, New York

About The Author

Picture of Michael Serres, ESQ.

Michael Serres, ESQ.

Michael Serres, ESQ. is a reputed Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Astoria, Queens, NY. He graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in 1989. Mr. Serres was admitted to practice law in New York State in 1990 and is admitted in the Federal District Courts for the Southern and the Eastern Districts of New York. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Workers’ Compensation Bar Association and is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Queens County Bar Association.