Many workers in Colorado know very well that it can be dangerous to work in some occupations. In addition, when those workers are injured on the job, there are sometimes restrictions governing their ability to seek medical care and insurance benefits offered by the workers’ compensation program. This, some authorities recently argued, is against the intent of the laws governing workers rights.
In a recent court case, former and current employees of Wal-Mart argued that the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act was violated when the large retailer required that workers injured on the job use company pharmacies for medical care. In fact, representatives for the employees told the court that if the injured worker used an outside medical facility for some treatments, they would be prohibited from collecting benefits. The court agreed that the company had violated the applicable laws.
Essentially, the court decision found that doctors had been illegally told how to treat their patients by Wal-Mart and its adjustor, Claims Management Inc. The ruling from the court in favor of the employees of Wal-Mart led to an agreement to pay more than 13,000 former and current workers from an $8 million settlement agreement. The payments will be paid half from the retailer and the other half from the adjustor.
Workers who are injured on the job are often able to make a claim to the workers’ compensation program for assistance with medical costs and living expenses. When this is the case, doctors have some freedom in how they treat their patients. This most recent court case confirms that companies cannot control the ability of medical professionals to assist those who have been injured on the job.
Source: Law Week Colorado, “$8 Million Settlement Announced Against Wal-Mart In Colorado,” Nov. 20, 2012