Understanding Employer Responsibility for Burn Injuries at Work

Imagine being at work when, without warning, an accident occurs and you suffer a burn injury. This moment can be not only physically painful but also mentally and emotionally jarring, raising concerns about your health, job security, and financial stability.

Burn injuries at work are more common than many might think, affecting employees across various industries. Depending on the severity and circumstances of the incident, employer responsibility becomes a critical factor to consider.

Common Causes of Burn Injuries at Work

Workplace burn injuries can stem from a wide array of sources. Some common causes include:

  • Chemical Burns: Handling or being exposed to corrosive substances without proper safety measures can lead to severe skin or eye injuries.
  • Electrical Burns: Working with live electrical wires, panels, or equipment without appropriate protective gear or safety protocols can cause devastating injuries. Electrocutions can also occur, resulting in devastating fatalities.
  • Thermal Burns: Encounters with steam, hot liquids, open flames, or hot surfaces in the workplace often result in thermal burns, which can cause significant tissue damage.
  • Radiation Burns: Employees working with or near radiation sources, including UV lights or medical imaging devices, are at risk of radiation burns if proper safeguards are not in place.

Your Legal Options If You Suffer a Workplace Burn Injury

In Colorado, the workers’ compensation system is designed to support employees who have sustained injuries, including burns, while on the job. This no-fault insurance provides compensation in the form of benefits that cover medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent disability, if applicable. Colorado mandates all employers to carry this coverage, even if they have only one part-time employee.

However, if you file a workers’ compensation claim, you generally cannot sue your employer, even if their recklessness or negligence caused the accident. Yet, under certain circumstances, you may have options to file a lawsuit. These may include:

  • If a third party’s negligence contributed to the incident: You may have the right to file a third-party liability claim against that entity, separate from your workers’ compensation claim. For example, if faulty equipment manufactured by another company was the cause of your burn injury, you might pursue legal action against the manufacturer.
  • If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance: Despite the legal requirement, some employers may fail to have proper workers’ compensation coverage. In such cases, you may directly sue the employer for damages related to your injury.
  • Intentional acts of harm by the employer: If the employer deliberately caused the situation that led to your injury, workers’ compensation might not bar you from pursuing a lawsuit for the intentional infliction of harm.
  • Gross negligence leading to unsafe work conditions: While rare, if it can be proven that the employer’s gross negligence created a dangerous environment resulting in your burn injury, a legal pathway might be available. Contact an attorney to explore your situation further.

If you or someone you know has suffered a burn injury at work, reaching out to a Denver workers’ compensation attorney is a critical step. An attorney can help you understand your rights and the scope of employer responsibility, and assist you in navigating the legal process to secure the support and compensation necessary for your recovery. After seeking medical care, contact a lawyer to discuss your options.

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