Filing a Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claim in North Carolina

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “Can my employer fire me because I filed a workers’ compensation claim?”


If you have sustained an injury at work, you might be wondering, “Should I file a workers’ compensation claim or pursue a personal injury lawsuit?” You need to understand the difference between personal injury and workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina.

men-on-roof-workers-compensation-Attorneys-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-300x225At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our knowledgeable and results-driven attorneys represent clients in both workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, consult with our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys to discuss your options.


When Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim After a Workplace Accident?

Under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law, employers with three or more employees are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees’ injuries in the event of work-related injuries and illnesses.

You might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you were injured at work in the course and scope of your employment.

Unlike personal injury claims, workers’ compensation claims are not based on fault. In other words, you do not need to prove that your employer or any other party was at fault for your workplace accident to obtain workers’ comp benefits.

With a few exceptions, you can receive workers’ comp benefits even if your own negligence contributed to your injury.


When Can I File a Personal Injury Claim After a Workplace Accident?

You can pursue a personal injury claim if you have been injured because of the negligent actions of another individual or entity. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, personal injury claims are based on fault.

It means that you must be able to prove that the other party was at fault for your injury to be entitled to compensation. In order to recover damages in a North Carolina personal injury case, you need to establish the following elements:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care;
  • The defendant breached the duty due to their negligence;
  • The breach caused your injury; and
  • You suffered damages and losses because of your injury.

Keep in mind that, unlike other states, North Carolina still follows the doctrine of contributory negligence. It means that an injured party is barred from recovering any damages if they contributed to their injury (even if they were deemed 1% at fault).


What is the Difference in Damages in Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Cases?

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, workers’ compensation benefits will likely cover your medical bills and some of your lost wages due to the injury. Workers’ compensation benefits do not include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and many other damages.

These non-economic damages are available in personal injury cases. Aside from compensation for your economic damages (medical expenses and loss of income), you may be able to recover for your pain and suffering and other non-economic damages and intangible losses.

As you can see, workers’ compensation and personal injury cases are different in terms of the types of available damages and the requirement to prove fault.

If you are still unsure whether you should file a workers’ compensation vs. personal injury claim in North Carolina, consult with our skilled attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Call (704) 370-2828 to receive a video, phone or in-person consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.





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