In another case study, we examine the case of Larry who was an auto mechanic at a shop for over 20 years. Larry was well respected at the shop and was considered part of the ‘family.’
Larry rarely called in sick and in all the time he worked at the shop, only took time off here and there.
When a co-worker, Jeff, had to be called away for the birth of his first child, Larry gladly stepped in to cover his shift.
During the shift though, the vehicle Larry was working on fell on him, causing 4 broken ribs and a crushed lung. It goes without saying Larry was in extreme pain when the car fell on him. It took 3 other employees at the shop to get the car off of him.
Larry was immediately rushed to the hospital and underwent over 5 hours of surgery as a result of the accident.
As far as a workers’ comp claim, Larry’s employer said he was not covered and refused to file a claim. He offered to pay Larry’s medical bills in lieu of a claim. The shop owner claims Larry was a ‘volunteer’ and therefore did not qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
However, since Larry agreed to WORK for Joe that day, workers’ comp benefits still applied. Larry was not volunteering his time. Rather, he was agreeing to work in Joe’s place so the expectant father could be with his newborn child.
Anyway, after 6 weeks, a workers’ comp doctor evaluated Larry and determined he was 80% disabled. In effect, Larry became permanently disabled from the accident – the mechanic had to undergo 5 months of physical therapy in order to recover.
In light of this rating, Larry hired a workers’ comp attorney to help him obtain his benefits. In the end, he was offered one of two options:
- A lump-sum payment of $240,000
- A payment of $130,000 and paid medical bills for life
Larry opted for #1 and took the lump sum. But since his employer was in the wrong for not filing the claim, an additional $20,000 penalty was assessed.
Workers’ comp benefits of this nature are based on several factors, including the extent of disability (…or Maximum Medical Improvement rating in Colorado), your annual salary, age, type of disability and other factors.
In the end, Larry was forced to retire from the garage. The settlement though helped ensure his financial stability. An additional $640 in Social Security disability payments also helps.
A couple of points to take away – if an employer refuses to submit a claim or otherwise doesn’t follow the proper procedures, you may be entitled to punitive damages.
A couple of points to take away…one, if an employer refuses to submit a claim or otherwise doesn’t follow the proper procedures, they will be subject to additional penalties.
Next, any final settlement (…excluding medical benefits) is based on a variety of factors, including the type of injury, how disabled you are, your age and your salary. In Colorado, the type of injury and your age are the two most important factors.
If your employer claims you’re not covered, be sure they’re correct. Do not just assume!!
Discuss your case with a workers’ comp attorney in Denver today to make sure you’re getting the benefits afforded to you under the law.