Key Differences Between Personal Injury And Workers’ Compensation In Rhode Island

When you suffer an injury, it can be a tough time, both physically and emotionally. The situation becomes even more complicated when the injury occurs at work, and you’re not sure whether you should file a personal injury or a workers’ compensation claim. Understanding the differences between the two is crucial because it affects your ability to make a legal claim for damages.

Here are the key differences between personal injury and workers’ compensation in Rhode Island.

Definition of Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation

Personal injury refers to an injury caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional action. For example, if you slip and fall in a retail store due to their failure to clean the floor properly, you may have a claim for personal injury.

On the other hand, workers’ compensation is a type of insurance policy that employers carry to provide benefits to employees who suffer injuries on the job. Workers’ compensation laws are designed to protect both the employer and the employee.

Who Pays for the Compensation?

In the case of personal injury, the person or company that caused the injury is responsible for paying for your damages. The damages can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses related to your injuries.

In the case of workers’ compensation, the employer is responsible for paying for all the damages related to the work-related injury. The payments are made through the worker’s compensation insurance.


Another essential difference between personal injury and workers’ compensation is fault. In a personal injury claim, you must prove that the other person was at fault for causing your injury, whether through negligence or an intentional act.

In workers’ compensation cases, fault does not matter. You are entitled to receive benefits regardless of who caused the accident or injury, as long as it happened while working.

Type of Compensation

The type of compensation you receive in a personal injury claim is usually more comprehensive than in a workers’ compensation claim. A personal injury claim, in addition to medical expenses and lost wages, may provide compensation for emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.

Workers’ compensation claims provide more limited benefits. You will receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation in case you cannot return to work due to your injury.

Legal Representation

In most personal injury cases, you need an attorney to represent you, and they typically work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they don’t get paid unless you win your case and receive compensation.

In contrast, workers’ compensation cases don’t require legal representation. You can file a claim on your own, and the insurance company usually pays your benefits.

Time Limits for Filing Claims

In Rhode Island, there are different time limits for filing a claim for personal injury or workers’ compensation. For personal injury claims, you have three years from the date of the accident to file your claim.

For workers’ compensation claims, you have up to two years to file your claim. Additionally, you must notify your employer of the injury within 30 days of the accident.


In conclusion, personal injury and workers’ compensation have different requirements and benefits. It is essential to seek the proper legal representation and understand your options if you have suffered a personal injury or a work-related injury. However, regardless of the type of claim you file, it is always best to get medical attention and report the injury to your employer as soon as possible.

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