The workers’ compensation system of payment without regard to fault is supposed to promote a safer workplace and to expedite the payment of injury claims. The belief in Colorado and elsewhere is that the private workers’ compensation insurance carriers will impose safety factors on companies with inordinate workplace injuries. Furthermore, as the risk goes up to the insurer, the premium likewise rises, which should cause safety reforms.
The safety influence of the law, however, is currently unproven and disputed. One definite benefit of the system, on the other hand, is that it has erased the traditional contentious and drawn-out fault-based lawsuits. Unfortunately, there are now contentious and drawn-out workers’ compensation claims that look a lot like lawsuits. A worker’s claim can get mired down in medical conflict and other issues raised by employers and insurers to try to deny benefits even in meritorious cases.
Insurers will sometimes inexplicably spend more than the totality of the claim itself just to stop the injured worker from collecting. However, the worker can optimize his position and increase the chances of winning by having his own team of experienced workers’ compensation attorneys on his side. While insurers try to stop appropriate payment to injured workers, many companies have placed safety on the side burner.
The safety issue is mainly handled by OSHA and state agencies, but not always in full-gear due to budgetary drawbacks. One recent example, however, of how OSHA can help is shown in a Montana case where an auto body worker was severely burned and died from an explosion in an auto body paint room. The company is paying off an OSHA fine. According to an OSHA spokesman, however, the employer has made “dramatic changes” and is working with training and consulting companies to increase safety measures.
Thus, as safety slowly gets addressed, claimants at the same time can act to better assure their rights. In Colorado, the claim can be handled by a workers’ compensation legal team that has the resources and experience to present the strongest case for the claimant. No victory is ever guaranteed, but prior results show a greater chance of success with the use of the most effective legal resources available.
Source: kpax.com, Missoula auto body shop reaches fire settlement with OSHA, No author, Dec. 27, 2013