Pueblo CO Work Injury Lawyer
Both public and private employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage under Colorado law, but there may be certain situations under which it is beneficial for a worker who was seriously injured to have a Pueblo CO work injury lawyer manage their claim.
What Is the “Grand Bargain?”
Under Colorado law, all public and private employers are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage. This coverage protects their employees in the event that an injury happens while they are on the job. It covers medical expenses and a percentage of wages lost during the period of time that the worker is rehabbing their injury. Employees are not required to prove that the employer was negligent. They are covered even when they are primarily responsible for their own injuries (with some exceptions). In other words, workers’ compensation works as a ‘no-fault system’.
As a trade-off, employers enjoy immunity from civil actions claiming negligence. In other words, employees are barred from filing a lawsuit directly against their employer. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. Employees may file a lawsuit under specific circumstances.
This is known as the “Grand Bargain”. Put simply, in exchange for the no-fault workers’ compensation system, employees are barred from directly suing their employers.
Third Party Liability and Workers’ Comp Claims
In cases where you are barred from suing your employer, you may be able to sue a third party for negligence. For instance, in cases where a third-party contractor causes your injuries, you would be able to file a lawsuit against that contractor. In addition, there are cases in which you will be injured by a toxic substance in the workplace or by a defective machine or equipment. In that case, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the company that supplied the equipment.
When Can I Sue My Employer?
As with all rules, there are exceptions under the law in which an employer can not claim immunity under the ‘Grand Bargain’. While these situations are rare, they’re certainly not unheard of and they’re not impossible to win. These include:
When your employer does not carry workers’ compensation coverage.
Employers are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage under Colorado law, but some don’t. Not only can they be fined by the state for this, you can sue them directly to recover damages in the event that you are injured.
When your employer intentionally causes your injuries.
If your employer intentionally causes injuries, you can sue them. This is because workers’ compensation will not cover any intentional act — only accidents. For instance, if you were to intentionally harm yourself on the job, you would not be covered by workers’ comp. The same applies to when a fellow employee or your boss or the owner of the company intentionally causes an injury.
When your employer is guilty of gross negligence or egregious misconduct.
If your injury occurred because your employer failed to adhere to safety regulations, you may have a case to sue them directly. Employers are under obligation to ensure that their employees have training to work with specific equipment and abide by safety regulations that are relevant to their industry. This includes safety regulations supplied by OSHA.
When your employer employs a third party who causes your injuries.
An employee may sue an employer directly if they hire a third party who then causes your injuries. For instance, if your employer owns a property that has dangerous conditions and fails to warn you before going onto the property or providing you with safety gear to navigate that property, you can sue your employer directly. The same holds true when a doctor employed by the company causes you further injury. If your employer manufactures a product that causes your injuries, you may sue them for that as well.
Proving Negligence or Gross Negligence in a Work-Related Lawsuit
If you sue your employer directly, you will have to prove either negligence or gross negligence. Otherwise, you have to file a claim under their workers’ compensation insurance if you can. The benefit of filing a lawsuit against your employer is that you can recover damages for pain and suffering and other forms of non-economic damages. You can’t recover these when filing a workers’ compensation claim.
What Must You Prove?
In order to prove negligence, you must prove each of the following:
- Your employer owed you a duty of care;
- Your employer failed in that duty of care; and
- That failure resulted in your injuries.
When all of the above are true, you have a successful negligence case.
Gross negligence is a kind of aggravated negligence. When you can show that your employer was indifferent to the safety of their employees or that an injury was likely inevitable due to safety lapses, you have a case for gross negligence. This can take many forms including negligent hiring, negligent retention, or violations of safety regulations.
Should You File a Lawsuit or a Worker’s Comp Claim?
Determining whether or not you should sue your employer directly or file a workers’ compensation claim can be difficult. The attorneys at Brylak Law can help you determine if you have a case for a lawsuit against your employer or if you should file a workers’ compensation claim.
Lastly, your employer may not legally retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim or otherwise exercising your right to sue under the law. While it’s not legal, it is also not unheard of. Employers will retaliate against employees by firing them, demoting them, or cutting back on their hours. If this happens to you, contact Brylak Law immediately.
How Workers’ Compensation Claims Work in Colorado
Colorado workers’ comp claims are overseen by the Division of Workers’ Compensation and operate on a no-fault system. In other words, you don’t need to prove that your employer was at-fault to make your workers’ comp claim. The only thing you must prove is that your injury occurred while you were on the job.
In most cases, private insurance companies will manage workers’ comp claims, but some companies are large enough to back their own claims. They must, however, apply to the state for this exemption.
What Potential Damages Can You Receive?
If you suffer injury on the job, you may be able to receive compensation for the following damages:
- Temporary disability benefits that compensate you for wage loss,
- Permanent disability benefits in cases where you are no longer able to work,
- Medical expenses related to the cost of your injuries,
- Vocational rehabilitation if you are no longer able to do your job because of your injury,
- The costs of transportation to and from injury-related medical care.
What Should I Do If I Sustain a Work Injury?
The first thing that you should do is alert your employer to the injury. In most cases, injured employees do not have to file a claim. Instead, their employer issues an injury report to their insurance company. If your employer neglects to report the injury, then you should file the claim yourself online. The insurance company then looks over your medical records. They may ask for you to see a medical or vocational expert to determine whether your injuries will prevent you from doing your job.
When Do I Need a Pueblo CO Work Injury Lawyer?
There may be certain situations in which your claim is denied. Insurance companies can say that the workplace accident only aggravated your injury, and that it existed prior to the work injury. They may dispute the notion that the injury was work-related or your employer may fire you after your injury (which is illegal). Nonetheless, claims filed after an employee has been terminated are typically denied.
In addition, you may want to have an attorney litigate your case when the injuries are catastrophic or life-altering. If this describes your situation, having a skilled Pueblo CO work injury lawyer manage your claim can be the key to a successful outcome.