Every day, workplace accidents lead to injuries and fatalities in the United States. In 2019 alone, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recorded 5,333 worker deaths and millions of serious injuries. Among these incidents are those involving defective equipment. While human errors often contribute to equipment accidents, product defects can also be a significant factor. In Colorado, it is important to understand your rights when it comes to claiming workers’ compensation for injuries caused by faulty equipment.
Common Types of Defective Equipment in the Workplace
Different industries rely on various types of equipment, some of which carry higher risks than others. Examples include cranes and heavy machinery at construction sites and industrial jobs. When such equipment is defective, the danger escalates. Common types of equipment that frequently experience issues include cranes, forklifts, work trucks, bladed tools, power tools, conveyor belts, power presses, manufacturing equipment, scaffolding, ladders, and lifts. Faulty machinery can cause severe injuries, such as broken bones, head injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, crush injuries, and amputations. If you or a loved one has been injured due to defective equipment, you may be entitled to financial compensation through one or more claims.
How to Pursue Workers’ Compensation for Defective Equipment in Colorado
In Colorado, the workers’ compensation program operates on a no-fault basis. This means you don’t need to prove someone else’s responsibility for your injury to be eligible for compensation. Workers’ comp covers almost any type of accident or injury that occurs while performing work-related tasks. This includes injuries and deaths caused by defective equipment. Here’s a step-by-step guide on filing a workers’ comp claim in Colorado:
- Seek immediate medical treatment in case of an emergency.
- For non-emergencies, visit a healthcare provider on your employer’s approved list.
- Report the accident to your employer in writing within four days.
- File a workers’ compensation claim using Form WC 15 within two years of the injury (as soon as possible).
- Consider consulting a workers’ compensation attorney to help negotiate a fair settlement.
The Division of Workers’ Compensation will review your claim and determine if you qualify for benefits. If desired, you can appeal the decision. While workers’ compensation provides an avenue for financial recovery, it may not offer the maximum available compensation.
Understanding Product Liability Lawsuits
In certain cases, filing a product liability lawsuit in Colorado can lead to greater financial compensation compared to a workers’ comp claim. A personal injury lawsuit can provide additional coverage, including compensation for pain and suffering, 100 percent of lost wages instead of two-thirds, and punitive damages. This is particularly crucial if you have sustained catastrophic injuries, such as the loss of a limb or a serious burn injury from a workplace fire. If you decide to sue a party other than your employer, such as a product manufacturer, you can seek reimbursement from both workers’ comp and the civil courts.
If an investigation into your workplace accident reveals that a piece of equipment or machinery had a product defect, you may have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor. Unlike most lawsuits, product liability claims do not require proof of negligence; demonstrating that the item had a defect and caused your injuries is generally sufficient.
You might also have the basis to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. Employers have a duty to ensure the safety of work-related equipment by properly maintaining machinery and providing safety training to workers. If an employer fails in these responsibilities, resulting in an equipment-related injury or death, they can be held financially accountable. It is important to note that once you accept a workers’ comp settlement, you generally cannot sue your employer. It is crucial to consult with a lawyer before signing any settlement agreement to understand your options fully. Contact Front Range Injury Attorneys for further guidance on your case.
In Colorado, workers have the right to claim workers’ compensation for injuries caused by defective equipment. It is essential to be aware of the common types of faulty equipment in the workplace and the potential catastrophic injuries they can cause. Understanding how to seek workers’ comp in Colorado, including reporting the accident to your employer and filing a claim promptly, is crucial for a successful outcome. However, in some cases, pursuing a product liability lawsuit may provide greater financial compensation, especially for severe injuries and losses.
Remember that accepting a workers’ comp settlement typically relinquishes your right to sue your employer. Therefore, it is wise to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to evaluate your legal options and protect your best interests. Front Range Injury Attorneys can provide the expertise and guidance you need to navigate the complexities of workers’ compensation and product liability cases.