Here in Colorado, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides benefits to those who are injured on the job regardless of who caused the injury. However, workers’ compensation benefits are not always available to all workers, and this is often the case with volunteer or temporary workers, for example. Nonetheless, injured workers should always seek legal counsel as it is often possible to obtain some form of compensation to treat injuries and compensate for time off of work.
Recently, a man was seriously injured on a church’s property where he was volunteering to do some cleanup work. As he was not an employee of the church, he was likely unable to seek workers’ compensation benefits. He has now filed a lawsuit against the church to hold it liable.
The accident stems from the man’s wife’s cancer battle. While his wife was going through cancer treatment, he prayed at a specific church for her to be healed. After doctors declared that the woman was cancer-free, he volunteered to clean the 600-pound crucifix that stood in front of the church.
The church agreed and the man spent a day clearing debris from the base of the statue and then proceeded to clean the statue itself with soapy water and rags. Little did he know that he would suffer a life-changing injury during this work.
During the cleaning, the statue detached from its base and crashed to the ground, crushing the man’s leg. His leg had to be amputated and he is no longer able to work. He has collected donations to pay for the extraordinary medical expenses he incurred in connection with his injury.
Workers’ compensation laws prevent employees from suing their employers for a workplace injury. Since this man was not a church employee, and presumably was not allowed to collect workers’ compensation benefits, he has been able to file a lawsuit.
It is often a good idea to seek experienced counsel in the aftermath of any workplace accident; even when the injured worker is a contract worker or volunteer, legal remedies may exist.
Source: New York Daily News, “Man who lost leg sues Newburgh, N.Y., church for $3 million after crucifix he offered to clean falls on him,” Nov. 7, 2012