Work Injury Lawsuit vs. Workers CompThere’s a lot of confusion surrounding work injury lawsuits and workers compensation, and many injured workers don’t understand their rights. Each state outlines specific instances in which both can be used, but pinpointing your options without legal assistance can be challenging. In Colorado, workers comp is a no-fault insurance that covers an injured employee’s compensation, benefits and treatments when they become hurt or unwell on the job. Because it is a no-fault system, it doesn’t require anyone to determine fault, and employers can’t generally deny it. That means that a worker can’t sue their employer and their employer can’t deny benefits, even if the accident was the worker’s fault. Work injury lawsuits, on the other hand, rely on determining fault and liability. As a type of personal injury lawsuit, they seek to collect damages caused by the at-fault party. Although employees can’t file a work injury lawsuit against their employers, they can file them against third parties.
Can I Sue My Employer?If your employer has workers compensation (which Colorado law requires them to have if they employ more than one person) you cannot file a lawsuit against them. However, you can file a work injury lawsuit against negligent third parties such as contractors, which are present in many of the work environments in which employees are likely to be injured. For example, a construction worker who is injured onsite can’t sue their employer—they knowingly do a dangerous job. However, they can sue the asphalt contractor that rolled over their leg with asphalt equipment. Like any other type of personal injury lawsuit, an attorney could help the injured construction worker to determine liability and pursue compensation from the negligent party. In summary, you can’t sue your employer instead of taking workers comp. However, you can sue the third party that contributed to your accident.
Types of Workplace Injuries
Physical TraumaWhen we think about workplace injuries, we tend to think about immediate physical trauma, the injuries caused by things like falling off of a ladder or being crushed by heavy equipment. However, not all injuries or illnesses are immediately apparent.
Occupational DiseasesA workplace injury is any physical harm or illness that a worker develops as a direct result of their job. That means that occupational diseases—illnesses that developed as a result of one’s work or work environment—are also grounds for a lawsuit if they involve a third party. Here are a few examples of occupational illnesses:
- Hearing loss
- Carpal tunnel
- Lead, sun poisoning
- Reproductive disorders
- Lung diseases
- Skin disease
- Computer vision syndrome
- Tennis elbow
Work-Related Car AccidentsYou don’t have to be on the job site or in the office to suffer a work-related injury. Many jobs require their employees to drive frequently. If an employee is injured in a car accident while performing these duties, they may be eligible to collect workers comp or file a civil suit against a third-party participant.
What to Do after a Work Injury in ColoradoIf you’ve suffered a workplace injury or illness, you may be tempted to just take a few days off of work and try to recover. But what happens if you don’t get better? Depending on how long it’s been since the incident occurred, you may have lost eligibility for full benefits. That’s why we suggest doing the following three things:
- Report your injury or illness to your employer. Unless you need immediate medical assistance, you should try to file an incident report with your employer first thing. That’s because in Colorado, workers only have four days to report it if they want to maintain full benefits eligibility.
- Seek medical treatment promptly. Unless your employer says otherwise, you will need to see a doctor chosen by your employer if you want to keep eligibility for full benefits with workers comp.
- Find an experienced work injury lawyer. Even though not everyone is eligible to file a work injury lawsuit, you shouldn’t assume that workers comp is your only option. Talk to a trusted work injury attorney to go over your case.
The Hermele Law Firm: Top Work Injury Lawyers in DenverInjuries are an unavoidable part of life, just like work. However, if you suffer injuries or illness as a result of your work, you shouldn’t be the one footing the bill for your recovery. Our experienced work injury attorneys can help you pursue the compensation you deserve, whether through a lawsuit, workers comp or social security benefits. Just remember: The clock is ticking, so you need to get started right away. Ready to explore your options? Contact The Hermele Law Firm or give us a call at (720) 740-0889 to schedule your free consultation.
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The Hermele Law Firm is a Business Law and Personal Injury Law Firm. We are licensed in the states of Colorado And Wyoming.
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