Workers’ Comp Claim or Personal Injury Lawsuit?

This video features Wayne D. Parsons, a Medical Malpractice attorney based in Hawaii.

Honolulu Attorney Helps Injured Workers

Video Transcript:

Wayne Parsons: 

The question in a workers' comp case is, "Were you in the course and scope of working?

Tom Mustin: 

What's the difference between a workers' comp claim and a third party personal insurance claim? We talked to Honolulu attorney Wayne Parsons in this episode of Ask The Lawyer. Wayne, what's the difference between a workers' comp lawsuit in Hawaii and a negligence lawsuit, when someone is injured at work?

Wayne Parsons:

Workers' comp is not a lawsuit, first of all. Workers' comp was a group of laws that were passed back in the 1920s. Swept across the country. A workers' comp case is one where you cannot file a lawsuit in court, you can only bring a workers' comp claim. The employer has to file a paper with the Department of Labor. That's how it works in Hawaii. If the employer doesn't, then the employee could file that paper or have a workers' comp lawyer file the paper. If a person goes to court for a broken leg, they can get all the damages I just described. Economic losses, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, all those damages and even get punitive damages if there's very egregious conduct, where the actual perpetrator needs to be punished for what they've done. In a workers' comp case, no general damages, you don't get anything for your pain and suffering, you don't get anything for your loss of enjoyment of life, you don't get anything for the days, weeks, months and years that you may be absolutely miserable and depressed because you can't function as you did before. And so that's the biggest difference.

The question in a workers' comp case is, "Were you in the course and scope of working?" That can be controversial sometimes, but all you have to do in a workers' comp case is prove that you were at work when it happened. And then the employer's insurance company is going to have to pay. They're gonna have to pay for whatever it was that you injured. The problem is that is limited. They only pay according to a medical fee schedule, they only paid doctors according to a medical fee schedule. And that medical fee schedule is much less than what doctors normally charge. So very few doctors in Hawaii will take workers' comp patient anymore. You get a limited amount of recovery of your wages. It's capped, so for a person who's a carpenter, for instance, who's getting union wages and getting union wages as a full-time carpenter, that person is not gonna be reimbursed in the workers' comp system for their total loss of income. It's gonna be limited to a certain amount that's calculated by a formula and capped. So if you're making $200,000 a year, workers' comp benefits are not gonna provide you with that amount of compensation, you're gonna be short. It does provide some rehabilitation money but that is hotly contested and very controversial. I do not do workers' comp cases, I don't take workers' comp cases, but I do refer clients who have a workers' comp case to a good workers' comp lawyer.

The fees are very reasonable. It is a very difficult system for the employee. And if there's a third party involved, meaning there's a driver of another car who had his own insurance, crashes into somebody who was at work, the person at work has a workers' comp case 'cause they were at work, but the other driver who hit them is subject to the worker bringing a regular case in court against that worker.

Tom Mustin: 

Well, we always appreciate your expertise Wayne. Thank you so much for joining us again today.

Wayne Parsons: 

Good to be here. Have a great day. Aloha.

Tom Mustin: 

All right, aloha Wayne. And that's gonna do it for this episode of Ask The Lawyer. My guest has been Wayne Parsons. If you wanna ask Wayne any questions about your situation, call the number on the screen there. Thanks for watching. I'm Tom Mustin for Ask The Lawyers.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Legal Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. Use of this website does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Information entered on this website is not confidential. This website has paid attorney advertising. Anyone choosing a lawyer must do their own independent research. By using this website, you agree to our additional Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.