While the workers’ compensation system guarantees payment regardless of fault, the payments offered are limited to medical expenses and lost wages. Pain and suffering is not considered a covered loss and cannot be collected through workers’ compensation. However, pain and suffering can be obtained by filing a lawsuit against the person responsible for causing the injury.
How Injured Workers May Be Paid for Their Pain and Suffering
Workers’ compensation is known as the “exclusive remedy” against employers for injuries suffered on the job. This means, if an injury qualifies for workers’ compensation, claimants are barred from suing the employer. The only exception is if the employee has suffered workplace discrimination or defamation, in which case the employee is allowed to sue the employer for damages (including pain and suffering).
How Workers Comp Can Pay for Pain and Suffering
In some cases, accidents are caused not by the employer, but by the negligence of a third party. Third-party claims can be sought regardless of workers’ compensation status and may include the costs of pain and suffering, punitive damages, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.
For example, workers may pursue a third-party claim against:
- A driver of a vehicle (not employed by the same employer) who caused a car accident
- A general contractor or sub-contractor responsible for a construction site injury
- A company who manufactured a defective piece of equipment
- An engineer or designer who created hazardous machinery or working conditions
- Property owners who allowed a dangerous condition to exist on their premises
- Maintenance companies who failed to adhere to cleanliness or safety standards
It is important to note that workers may have to pay the workers’ compensation insurer back if they recover damages from a negligent third party. A successful negligence claim often includes payment for lost earnings and medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering, and employees who have already been paid for some of these costs through workers’ compensation can be ordered to reimburse the insurer. This prevents claimants from being paid twice for the same losses and allows the third party to be held liable for the full costs of the accident.
Have You Been Injured On The Job In Rhode Island?
If you've been hurt at work you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Cranston office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help work injury victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.