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Should You Seek Disability or Workers Comp for Your Injuries?

If you’ve suffered an injury that has left you unable to work, you may be investigating the various options that will provide you with temporary income. And if your injury took place at work, you may be debating whether you should seek workers compensation or accept short-term disability from your employer—or whether you can do both. Read on to learn more about the benefits and potential drawbacks of either possible path, as well as some situations when filing a personal injury lawsuit may be your best option.

Can you receive short term disability and workers comp at the same time?

Short term and long term disability benefits are a type of insurance often offered by employers as a perk, in addition to discounted group health and dental insurance. In other cases, you may be able to purchase this coverage privately on the open market. Generally, short-term disability insurance will pay you about two thirds of your regular salary for about six months after you become disabled or begin missing work. After these benefits expire, you may be able to transition to long-term disability insurance benefits or apply for and begin receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Workers compensation is another type of insurance that is paid by your employer and available specifically to those injured on the job or while acting at the direction of their employer. Unlike short- and long-term disability benefits, which pay only a percentage of your pre-injury salary, workers compensation covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with your workplace injury. There’s often no set expiration for workers comp benefits as long as you’re still undergoing treatment for injuries directly related to your workplace accident.

In most cases, if you file for and begin receiving workers comp benefits, your claim for short term disability benefits will be denied. When you’re receiving short- or long-term disability benefits, you won’t be permitted to receive income from any other source. This means that if you were injured at work and have incurred out of pocket medical expenses, you’re usually better off filing for workers comp benefits rather than disability benefits, as more of your expenses (including lost wages) will be covered by this insurance plan. However, if you were injured off the job, your short term disability plan should still cover the injury.

When should you file a personal injury lawsuit instead?

Although many workplace injuries are purely accidents, some result from an employer’s clearly negligent or irresponsible behavior. If your workers comp claim isn’t enough to cover your injuries, or if you believe your employer is continuing to put other employees in danger, you may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit.

You should be able to file a lawsuit even if you’ve already accepted workers comp or short- or long-term disability payments (although if you receive a court judgment, your disability benefits may cease). Not only will a personal injury lawsuit potentially allow you to recover additional funds to be used for your care and treatment, it can provide enough of a disincentive that your employer may be prompted to change procedures (or fire employees) to ensure a similar situation doesn’t happen again.

Although filing a personal injury lawsuit against an employer for whom you still work may feel awkward, there are no legal prohibitions against doing so. In fact, you likely have a number of legal protections against being disciplined or terminated in retaliation for filing this lawsuit. You shouldn’t let fear of repercussions prevent you from seeking compensation for your injuries when your employer was clearly at fault. Learn more about ERISA disability claims by contacting local specialized law firms.