After a Colorado employee is injured in a workplace accident, he or she is often left wondering if the only compensation he or she will get is from workers' compensation. For a serious on-the-job injury, merely applying for workman's comp or disfigurement benefits may not be enough to cover medical costs, lost wages, or the pain and suffering an employee may feel well after the accident. In those situations, a worker may file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer, too.
Some states, however, have banned lawsuits for workplace injuries, arguing that benefits under the workers' compensation program are sufficient. Others report that some of the most critically injured or permanently disabled may not be able to really get the kind of money they need from just the workers' compensation program. In addition, there may be some injured employees who want to hold their employers responsible for their accident.
Outside of Colorado, one state's legislature has recently passed a bill that wouldn't let anyone diagnosed with an occupational disease sue an employer or co-worker. Under the proposed legislation, occupational disease will only be covered by the workers' compensation program and a worker with an occupational disease cannot get civil damages.
While this bill is not going through the Colorado legislature, it raises some questions about what an injured employee is owed. Should he or she be able to go after as large of an award as he or she can through a civil lawsuit? With the possibility that this type of law could soon be debated in Denver, it is important to remember that anyone injured in an on-the-job accident can apply for workers' compensation benefits.
Source: CBS St. Louis, "Bill Limiting Employee Lawsuits Moves Forward," Matthew Patane, March 8, 2012