Under Louisiana law, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means an injured worker doesn’t have to prove that their employer did anything wrong; just that the injury happened while they were at work.
Compared to filing a personal injury lawsuit against an employer, this no-fault approach makes it easier for injured workers to receive the medical care they need after a workplace accident, but it comes with some important tradeoffs.
One of the most important of these is that workers’ compensation is intended to be an exclusive remedy. This means that, if a worker is injured on the job and collects workers’ compensation benefits, they generally cannot also file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer if it involves the same injury.
Another disadvantage is that workers’ compensation benefits don’t cover as many types of damages as a personal injury lawsuit can.
In most personal injury claims, there are two categories of damages available: economic and noneconomic. In particularly difficult cases, there may also be punitive damages that are designed to punish bad behavior by the defendant.
Economic damages include things like medical expenses and lost wages. It’s relatively easy to provide evidence of these damages by showing medical bills and paystubs, and then calculating future costs and future lost wages.
Noneconomic damages include losses that are harder to pin down, such as pain and suffering. An injured person who suffers terrible pain as the result of their injury has clearly experienced a loss, and if that loss is the result of someone else’s negligence, they should be compensated for it.
What workers’ compensation covers
Louisiana workers’ compensation law generally doesn’t use the term “damages,” but if you compare the workers’ compensation to personal injury, you can see that workers’ compensation benefits might cover the economic damages of an injured worker, but not necessarily their noneconomic damages.
They will receive compensation for their medical expenses and possibly their lost wages, but not for their pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages. As a result, a seriously injured worker won’t recover compensation for all they have lost.
To maximize their recovery, injured workers may want to learn more about third-party claims and other ways to receive full compensation for all they have lost.