Worker's Compensation - Law 101
Hello, I'm attorney Kyle Bachus. The legal world is full of overly complicated jargon and terminology that can be intimidating if you don't know what it means. In my law 101 video series, I'm breaking down some commonly used legal terms so you can be informed and confident should you ever need to take legal action.
In this episode of law 101, we're going to break down and tell you what workers' compensation means in the legal world.
Workers' compensation is a substitute system that's been created by statute to resolve injury claims when somebody is injured on the job. Believe it or not years ago, maybe a hundred years ago, it depends on which state. If you were injured on a worksite, you had to sue your employer, right? That might be uncomfortable if you want to keep a job. So many states moved away from a traditional tort system for handling workers' compensation claims and instead created a separate statutory system.
The work comp statute is in place of being able to bring a claim against an employer for an on-the-job injury. So long as the employer has purchased workers' compensation insurance, and that's the trigger for that immunity. If they purchase workers' compensation insurance, they buy this immunity that then says the injured worker is only entitled to recover under the statutory scheme that's created in each state. These benefits may vary state to state. But worker's compensation benefits generally cover wage loss, but instead of a hundred percent; they usually cover about 66 percent of wage loss.
There's generally a cap on how much wage loss per week you can get through workers' compensation. Workers' compensation benefits also cover long-term physical injury, but they only cover from a standpoint of what are you likely to lose in terms of future income based upon your injury. Workers' compensation does not provide any compensation at all for pain or suffering or loss of enjoyment of life, or physical impairment. It does provide compensation for the work consequences of physical impairment, but there's a statutory calculation that is applied based upon the percentage of permanent injury.
Workers' compensation claims do not go to the traditional court system; there's no right to jury trial. Workers' compensation claims go through an administrative process. Through administrative law, judges that are appointed to handle and process worker's compensation claims. There are circumstances where you could be eligible for both a worker's compensation claim and a traditional tort claim, right? You could be driving down the road on behalf of an employer and be injured by somebody else who causes that injury. In that circumstance, your medical expenses and other worker's compensation benefits, you get to recover those from your work comp claim. And then you can present a tort claim against the driver who caused the injuries.
Now you have to be aware of this too, subrogation, see that video on subrogation because that might apply to a worker's compensation situation. But the good news about worker's compensation is that worker's compensation is available to a worker even if the worker is at fault. Well, if an employer fails to purchase worker's compensation insurance, then you can pursue a claim against them outside the workers' compensation system, and you apply all of what we learned in other videos when we talked about tort claims. Because traditional tort claims, negligence claims is how you would proceed.
I will tell you that employers view the relief or the immunities created by the work comp system in such a way that almost every employer buys into the work comp system. Because at the end of the day, it saves them a tremendous amount in terms of exposure to liability by buying in. So if you're injured on the job, and you have a question about whether you have a work comp claim.
Exactly what benefits you might be entitled to under Colorado's worker's compensation statute or any other state worker's compensation statute. We're happy to answer those questions for you at Bachus & Schanker. To learn more about other law topics that can help you feel informed and confident about the law, make sure to check out more videos in this series.
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