You are injured at work.  You inform your employer immediately.  In a timely manner, you file a workers’ compensation claim and treat with a workers’ compensation doctor.  Upon completion of your treatment, your doctor indicates that you have recovered fully and your claim closes.  You are happy with the treatment that you have been provided but you remain frustrated.  You believe that your injuries are the result of the negligence of someone else.  You believe you should be able to recover further for the physical and emotional distress your injuries caused to you.  Can you recover for your “pain and suffering” in a personal injury action?

Pain and suffering is the legal term used for the physical and emotional distress caused from an injury.  Whether you are able to recover pain and suffering incurred as a result of injuries sustained at work will rely on a single question:  Who caused your work related injury?

In Nevada, subject to some exceptions, an injured worker cannot sue his or her employer for a work related injury or occupational illness.  This means if you were injured as a result of the negligence of your employer, you will only be able to obtain benefits through the workers’ compensation system.  Workers’ compensation will cover all medical expenses incurred as a result of your injury.  If you are deemed unable to work or placed on restrictions that your employer cannot accommodate, workers’ compensation will also provide you with a portion of your lost wages.  The workers’ compensation system does not, however, allow you to recover for physical and emotional distress your injuries caused to you.  As such, if your employer’s negligence was the cause of your work related injury, you will not be able to recover for your pain and suffering.

In some instances, however, someone besides your employer will be responsible for your injuries. Work related injuries that are incurred as a result of the negligence of a third party often times will result in two claims:  a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim (work comp/PI claim).  The workers’ compensation claim, through the workers’ compensation carrier, will cover all medical expenses and wages that are lost as a result of your injury.  At the conclusion of your treatment, the personal injury claim, through the third party insurance company, will then compensate you for other damages that are not provided by workers’ compensation, including recovery for pain and suffering incurred as a result of your injury.

It is important to note that workers’ compensation/personal injury claims can often times be more difficult to manage than a regular workers’ compensation claim.  Several things must be addressed when these kinds of claims arise.  You must be sure that the third party that is responsible for your injuries is adequately insured and that a claim is opened promptly with the third party insurance company.  The insurance company must then be kept apprised as to your treatment status.  At the end of your treatment, a demand package, including billing that the workers’ compensation carrier has already covered, must then be provided to the third party insurance company so that the personal injury claim can be properly evaluated.

Lastly, you must remember that any recovery received from the third party insurance company must be reported to the workers’ compensation carrier and any workers’ compensation lien must be satisfied.  This means that you must reimburse the workers’ compensation carrier for any payments disbursed for your medical bills, lost wages, and/or disability recovery.  Lien amounts can be negotiated; however, some of the methods used for these negotiations can be extremely difficult.  You must be sure you use the proper avenue to reduce your workers’ compensation lien to lowest amount possible.  This often entails employing difficult formulas and participating in lengthy negotiations.

As the best workers compensation attorney Las Vegas has to offer, we specialize in both personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims.  We also handle these kind of special hybrid workers’ compensation/personal injury claims.  If you have been injured, please do not hesitate to contact us at 702-380-2800 for a free consultation to ensure that you are getting the benefits and compensation you deserve.  We are happy to assist you in any way that we can.