Colorado Springs CO Work Injury Lawyer
Those who have been injured in a work-related accident may or may not require a Colorado Springs CO work injury lawyer to help manage their claim. Colorado law requires employers to have workers’ comp insurance. For the most part, the process works well. In some situations, however, either due to the insurance company denying a claim or by the malfeasance of the employer, the process is more difficult than it should be.
If you’ve had a claim denied or suffered a serious injury that may impact your ability to do your job in the future, let a Colorado Springs CO injury lawyer manage your claim, and increase your chances of obtaining a reasonable settlement. Call Brylak Law today.
How Work Injury Claims Work in Colorado
All workers’ comp claims are overseen by the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Like other states, Colorado operates on a no-fault system. This means that you do not need to prove that your employer was negligent in order to be eligible for benefits. You simply need to prove that you sustained injury on the job.
The majority of employers have private insurance companies manage claims against the employer. Some companies are large enough to back claims against the company.
What Damages Can I Receive?
Those who sustain work injuries may be able to receive compensation for the following:
- Wage loss benefits connected to your injury (temporary disability),
- Permanent disability benefits for those who have suffered serious injury,
- Medical costs related to treatment and rehab for your injuries,
- Vocational training if your injury prevents you from continuing your current job,
- Transportation costs to medical appointments.
What Is the “Grand Bargain”?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. In other words, it doesn’t matter who is responsible for your injury — you can still recover your medical expenses and a percentage of your wages along with the compensation mentioned above. Every employer is Colorado is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, so all employees of the company should be covered at all times. As a trade-off to the no-fault system, employers enjoy immunity from lawsuits. In other words, employees who are injured on the job cannot generally sue their employers for negligence.
There are, however, exceptions to this rule. We will discuss those below.
Third Party Negligence
There are circumstances under which your employer is not responsible for a work-related injury. While you can still file a workers’ compensation claim, you can also sue a third-party contractor or a company that manufactured a defective product if they caused your injuries. In this case, you waive your right to compensation under workers’ comp and sue the third-party directly.
While workers’ compensation covers a great many things, you can generally recover more money in a lawsuit. For instance, you are not entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, or other damages that are considered “non-economic”. You can in a lawsuit. The trade-off is that you must now prove negligence whereas, under workers’ compensation, fault or blame don’t matter.
If a third party is responsible for your injuries, you should talk to your attorney about suing the third party directly. It may be in your best interests to do so.
When Can I Sue My Employer?
Employer immunity under workers’ compensation law only goes so far. There are times when your employer will be solely liable for your injuries and can be sued directly. As stated earlier, a lawsuit provides a broader range of damages than you can recover under workers’ comp. In other words, you’re likely to see a larger settlement. These situations include:
When your employer doesn’t carry a workers’ compensation policy.
While all employers are required to carry workers’ comp policies under Colorado law, that doesn’t mean that they will. If their coverage lapses or they neglected to purchase coverage, you can sue them directly under the law. In addition, they will waive any right to employer immunity under the law, so you can recover noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.
When your employer causes your injuries intentionally.
If your boss, the owner, or another employee punches you in the face or hits you with an object, you can sue your company to recover damages. Their workers’ compensation policy will not cover intentional acts of violence, only accidents. On the same token, you will likely not be covered for any intentional act of harm you do to yourself.
When your employer is guilty of gross negligence or egregious misconduct.
Your employer is expected (by law) to provide you with a safe working environment. This means that anyone they hire should be qualified to do their job and that they should be providing their employees with the proper safety equipment in order to do their job. They must also comply with any federal or state regulations governing their industry. If you are injured by an unqualified employee or due to a lack of abiding by safety regulations, you can directly sue your employer for gross negligence.
When your employer hires a third party who causes your injuries.
There are times when you can sue your employer for the negligent hiring of a third party. You can also sue your employer if they have you work on one of their properties and you sustain an injury due to dangerous conditions on that property. Lastly, if you are injured by a product that your company manufactures, you can sue your employer directly.
Determining whether or not you should file under workers’ comp or sue your employer directly is a tricky decision. You may be entitled to recover a much larger settlement but, at the same time, there is a risk involved. You will need to prove either basic negligence or gross negligence. In cases where there is firm evidence that your employer’s misconduct resulted in your injury, suing them directly is generally the better decision.
Proving Negligence in a Work-Related Injury Lawsuit
A basic negligence claim has a three-factor test. You must be able to prove each of the following for a successful lawsuit:
- Your employer owed you a duty of care;
- Your employer failed in that duty of care; and
- Your injuries occurred as a result of that failure.
When you can prove each of these elements, you have a successful negligence case. Proving gross negligence is a little trickier. You must show that your employer disregarded employee safety, violated safety regulations, or that an injury or death was inevitable because of their negligence. In other words, gross negligence has a higher standard of proof.
What Should I Do If I Sustain an Injury on the Job?
The first thing you must do is alert your employer to the injury. Usually, the report the injury to their insurance company. You can also report the injury and file a claim online. Your employer’s insurance company will look over your medical records and investigate reports of the accident. In cases of serious injury, they may ask you to see a doctor or hire a vocational expert to determine what jobs you can and cannot perform.
When Do I Need a Colorado Springs CO Work Injury Lawyer?
In some cases, your employer’s insurance company may deny your claim. They may argue that while the work incident may have aggravated your injuries, a pre-existing condition or accident at least partially caused the injuries. The insurance company may also claim that your injuries are not job-related at all. Some employers have fired employees who are filing a workers’ comp claim against. This is illegal, but insurance companies are still very likely to deny your claim.
In instances where you have suffered catastrophic injuries such as paralysis or the loss of a limb, you may consider having a work injury lawyer manage your claim. There’s a lot at stake, and you want to ensure you get the best possible settlement.
At Brylak Law, we have helped many of our clients appeal their claims and obtain excellent recovery settlements from insurance companies. Call us today.