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DLG- Determining Economic Damages in a Workers’ Compensation Case

After an employee is injured at work the question often arises whether to pursue a workers’ compensation claim or to sue the employer under a personal injury claim. The two options are quite different, and both are only sometimes available. Claimable damages under each option differ significantly. If you are based in Riverside, California and believe you may have a California Workers’ Compensation case, consider contacting the Diefer Law Group to learn more about your legal rights at (888) 301-7795. Our experienced Riverside workers’ compensation attorneys can help you determine the economic damages in your workers’ compensation claim.


Understanding California Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation involves a trade-off between streamlining compensation claims made by workers injured at work and the ability of the worker to sue the employer for injuries suffered. Importantly, negligence on the part of the employer is not required for a workers’ compensation claim to be successful. However, damages in a workers’ compensation claim are generally restricted to economic damages. Non-economic damages are usually not awarded in workers’ compensation claims. 

Economic damages cover all financial losses suffered by the employee as a direct result of the injury sustained at work. Conversely, non-economic damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional distress
  • Humiliation
  • Reputational damage
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Worsening of prior injuries


If you are curious about what types of compensation you may have a right to receive after suffering an injury in the workplace, consider visiting with an experienced Riverside workers’ compensation attorney at Diefer Law Group today. 


Examples of Economic Damages in California Workers’ Compensation Cases

Economic damages are financial losses that are easily calculable and identifiable as a result of the workplace injury. Under California law (California Civil Code § 1431.2 (b)(1)), economic damages include already incurred financial losses, such as expenses related to medical appointments and treatments, and lost wages. Additionally, economic damages also can include quantifiable future losses, such as the expectation of future loss of wages or benefits. 

Examples of economic damages in a workers’ compensation claim may include:

  • Past medical expenses including:
  • Doctor visits;
  • Prescriptions and other medications; 
  • Emergency room or urgent care;
  • Ambulance services;
  • Lab work;
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation expenses;
  • Diagnostic testing;
  • Travel to and from appointments;
  • Costs of medical care in the future, where the need for medical care continues into the future;
  • Past and future lost wages owed to the victim due to their inability to return to work and/or could not attend work due to medical appointments;
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Property damage involved in the injury;
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Permanent disability.


How Can A Worker Prove Economic Damages?

An employee attempting to claim workers’ compensation benefits must adequately document economic damages. Compensation for economic damages is not possible unless there is clear proof of the validity of the damages claimed. In many cases, proof for economic damages in a workers’ compensation case may include wage and income reports and medical bills. In addition, receipts, statements, invoices, and other documentation constitute evidence of loss. All losses must be related to the accident.


Economic Damages and Expert Witnesses

Sometimes it may be necessary to call on expert witnesses to provide a foundation for the amounts claimed in a workers’ compensation case. For example, if an employee suffered a traumatic brain injury at work, it may be necessary to get a report from a medical expert which would outline the effect the brain injury has on the employee’s ability to work, the extent of medical care required for the future and how the brain injury affects the daily life of the employee. 


Are Compensatory Damages the Same as Economic Damages?

Compensatory damages are wider than economic damages. Compensatory damages are generally awarded in personal injury cases requiring the element of negligence. The compensatory damages can also include:

  • non-economic damages, 
  • pain and suffering, 
  • loss of consortium, 
  • emotional distress, 
  • humiliation, 
  • reputational damage, 
  • loss of enjoyment of activities, 
  • worsening prior injuries.  


Generally, in a workers’ compensation claim, it is not typical to claim any non-economic damages. However, there are some important exceptions to this general rule. The compassionate and skilled Riverside Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Diefer Law Group can help answer your questions, and help you determine your legal options. 


When Worker’s Compensation Includes Non-Economic Damages

There are two instances in which an employee is allowed to sue the employer for injuries or illnesses that occurred in the workplace. 

Negligent Conduct

Workers’ compensation is not based on negligence. However, there is still recourse against the employer if acted in a negligent or reckless manner. If an employer was negligent and the negligence led to the employee’s injuries, it may allow a victim to file a personal injury claim in a court of law. Every case will have a different set of circumstances, and it is important to consider visiting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney that understands personal injury law in order to ensure your legal and financial rights remain protected. 

Intentional Harm 

If the employee can prove that the employer acted intentionally to harm the employee, it may be possible to sue the employer. The employee must prove that the employee suffered damages due to the employer’s actions. Damages could potentially include non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. 


Contact an Experienced Riverside Workers’ Compensation Attorney To Learn More

The experienced and dedicated Riverside, California Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Diefer Law Group help you understand your legal rights. Our compassionate and seasoned attorneys service the following locations in California: Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles, Irvine, and Dana Point. Contact our legal team today at (888) 301-7795 to schedule an appointment and learn more.

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Los Angeles
355 South Grand Avenue Suite 2450
Los Angeles, CA 90071

6670 Alessandro Blvd Suite H,
Riverside CA, 92506

2030 Main Street Suite 1356
Irvine, CA 92614

Dana Point
34204 Pacific Coast Highway
Dana Point, CA 92629

San Diego
12636 High Bluff Drive Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92130



Diefer Law Group, P.C.


2030 Main Street
Suite 1356
Irvine, CA 92614

(949) 799-1860

San Diego

12636 High Bluff Drive
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92130

(619) 728-3990

Los Angeles

355 South Grand Avenue
Suite 2450
Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 973-6142


6670 Alessandro Blvd
Suite H,
Riverside CA, 92506

(951) 470-1862

Dana Point

34204 Pacific Coast
Dana Point, CA 92629

(949) 799-1534

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