The most important difference between Worker’s compensation and personal injury law is that worker’s compensation is a personal injury that occurs at the individuals workplace or in the scope of their employment and a worker’s compensation claim must be brought to the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) and therefore is subject to the DIA’s rules and regulations regarding a worker’s compensation claim. However, a personal injury matter can be filed in district or superior based upon the amount of damages sought by the individual.
In the case of personal injury it is considered to be a negligent act. Under Massachusetts Tort Law Section 1.1a (personal injury) it states that a negligent defendant is liable to the plaintiff for reasonable pain and suffering caused by the defendant’s negligence. In order to evaluate the pain and suffering the plaintiff endured the following things are looked at; how badly the plaintiff was injured, the nature, extent, severity, permanency and the effect of the injuries. Past and future probable pain and suffering may be considered part of the plaintiff’s damages. Damages defined under Massachusetts Tort Law are; “The sum of money fixed upon must be such as fairly compensates the injured person for the loss of time, the physical pain and the mental suffering both that are undergone in the past and likely to occur in the future.” Some examples of sources of evidence regarding pain and suffering could be the following; the plaintiff’s testimony about the plain, expert evidence such as the plaintiff’s doctor, hospital records, nurses notes, test results, records of administration of medicines, and lastly the life expectancy of the plaintiff. When it comes to damages it is said that if the jury finds that the negligence on part of the defendant has aggravated a preexisting condition of the plaintiff then the difference at any given time between what the plaintiff’s condition would have been absent the accident and what the plaintiff’s condition is, or was or what it will be because of the accident will determine the extent of the defendant’s liability. (MA Tort Law Section 1.1a)
The following things are also considered when determining personal injury law; loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, consortium damages, scarring and disfigurement and lastly medical expenses. Loss of earning capacity means that it is not limited to the amount of the plaintiff’s lost wages at the time of his/her injury it is the loss of reduction in ones ability to earn a living.
The loss of enjoyment of life is when the individual’s quality of life is assessed by the measurement of his/her status in the community, personal interests, hobbies and the participation in numerous noneconomic activities.
Consortium damages are when an individual is injured by another’s negligence, the injured persons spouse may collect damages from the person who committed the negligent act. The spouse has the right to recover for services, society, sexual relations and conjugal affections. Consortium damages are also when a person is injured by a negligent act of another parents have the right to collect damages from the negligent individual. The parents have the right to recover damages under loss of services, society, companionship, and care of their parent.
A plaintiff is allowed to recover damages from the negligent individual who scarring and disfigurement. Whether or not photographs of the scars or disfigurements of the plaintiff’s will be allowed into the court proceeding is an issue the trial judge will address.
Lastly a plaintiff may recover damages for medical expenses that were incurred in treating the injury of the plaintiff caused by the defendant’s negligence. It is not necessary that the plaintiff have paid the bills, all they must do is show that they were incurred.
When it comes to a worker’s compensation claim it differs greatly from personal injury. When an injury occurs at the workplace or during the scope of employment is when an individual may file a worker’s compensation claim. As stated above the biggest difference is that a worker’s compensation claim is not heard in a district or superior court it is heard by an administrative law judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA). MA General laws chapter 152 section 1(4) it defines an employee as “every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, expressed or implied, oral or written.” Worker’s compensation coverage is mandatory for all the employees in the private sector excluding the following; seasonal, casual or part-time domestic servants, in some circumstances professional athletes, real estate sales persons, door to door salespersons and lastly taxi drivers. In MA all employer’s are required to have worker’s compensation insurance so that when an employee is injured at the workplace or during work it helps to pay for medical treatment related to the injury and also it pays partial compensation for lost wages after five days of disability. In order to receive worker’s compensation benefits the injured individual is required to fill out paper work that can be found on the DIA’s website.