I am often asked by worker’s compensation claimants whether they are entitled to pain and suffering as a result of their work-related injury. They are often dismayed to find out that they are not. Pain and suffering is not a remedy provided for under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Act provides for payment of medical compensation and bills, some of your lost income, and payment for permanent disability.
Why isn’t pain and suffering provided for by the Workers’ Compensation Act? Well, to answer that question, you would have to look at the legislative history of the Act. Before you roll your eyes and sigh heavily, don’t be alarmed. I am not going to bore you with a history lesson—mostly because it’s been a long day. Basically, the legislature set up the Act to mandate that employers would provide coverage for the medical expenses, partial lost income, and payment for permanent disability. In exchange, the injured worker “agrees” not to sue the employer for his or her injuries. Essentially, rather than having to first prove your employer was negligent prior to recovering any benefits, you only have to prove you were injured while working. Often, that is easier said than done, but I’ll discuss that in a future blogs. Don’t get me wrong. That is not to say that an injured employee cannot sue his or her employer if the injured employee’s injury results from the employer’s negligence. This type of claim is allowed but only in limited circumstances, but I’ll save that discussion for another day.
If you have any questions regarding a potential workers’ compensation claim, even about pain and suffering, please feel free to contact me.