Why Can’t I Recover for Pain and Suffering?


One of the questions we hear all the time is why a claimant cannot recover for their pain and suffering.  The Workers’ Compensation Act provides a number of important benefits to the injured employee but does not allow for pain and suffering.  It can provide income benefits to provide for someone while they are recovering from an injury.  It also provides for medical benefits to affect a cure for the employee.  Additionally, there is a provision for recovery based upon any permanent impairment left after the recovery.  All of these benefits are provided for anyone working for an employer covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act who is injured while working.

Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, the worker need not prove negligence in order to recover.  There is no premises liability analysis to perform as to superior knowledge of a hazard or even whose fault the accident was.  Further, medical and income benefits are available very quickly.

There is, however, a tradeoff.  The Workers’ Compensation Act also provides that the above mentioned remedies are all that is available to the injured employee.  The injured employee, absent a showing of clear intent on the part of the employer, may not pursue a tort claim against the employer to seek additional damages.  That means that pain and suffering and punitive damages are simply not possible for the injured worker against the employer.  It does not matter in the context of the Workers’ Compensation claim that a worker may be subject to tremendous hardship based upon the injury if the employer is paying all of the benefits that are statutorily required.