Colorado Work Injury Attorney: The Better Alternative to Workers’ Comp

Why Workers’ Comp is a Starting Point, But Not the End

Video Transcript:

Galen Trine-McMahan”

Third-party claims cover pain and suffering, all of your future medical care, and not just the bare minimum that workers’ comp might be covering.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you’re injured while on the job, is workers’ compensation your only option? We're going to find out when we ask the lawyer today. Hi again, everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com and here to help us out is my guest, Colorado attorney Galen Trine-McMahan with Metier Law Firm. Galen, thank you for helping us out, good to see you again.

Galen Trine-McMahan:

Thank you, it's good to be here.

Rob Rosenthal:

So, if your employer offers workers’ comp and you're injured, obviously that's your first option, but you're here to tell us there possibly could be other options to recover damages. Correct?

Galen Trine-McMahan:

There are. So, there's workers’ compensation and potentially there's a civil claim for insurance, and those two work very differently and there are pros and cons to each, but they are separate. Oftentimes they are both available.

Rob Rosenthal:

Okay, so we're talking about what is often called a third-party claim. Correct?

Galen Trine-McMahan:

Correct.

Rob Rosenthal:

So can you give us some examples of what might be a third party claim?

Galen Trine-McMahan:

Yeah. So it's especially common in egregious conduct of the employer, but oftentimes what we'll see is a person gets hurt at work and workers’ compensation kicks in immediately. I like to think of workers’ compensation as the beat up, rusty, camper van that comes in to help get you home. It's not perfect, it's not wildly comfortable, it's kind of minimalist. Workers’ compensation pay is for things like most of your medical bills, some sort of fraction of your last wages, and it's really the bare minimum to carry you to the end, which hopefully includes a third-party claim, which is more like your house.

Third-party claims cover pain and suffering, all of your future medical care, and not just the bare minimum that workers’ comp might be covering, but really the whole host of care that could really help. It also covers all of your future lost wages. It's just much more broad and provides a greater level of comfort and financial security.

Rob Rosenthal:

So if somebody handles their workers’ compensation claim on their own or they get an attorney to help them, if they are wondering if they have a third-party claim, would that be a different attorney they would have to help them? And do they need an attorney to help them with that third-party claim?

Galen Trine-McMahan:

In most situations, yes. They are different specialties. For example, I don't practice workers’ compensation, and I don't know that area of law particularly well. So, there's a workers’ compensation lawyer that's helping you, in my analogy, be in that camper van and be carried along and be getting benefits along the way. And then separately, we're looking for a civil personal injury attorney to help you with the third-party claim.

The reason those two coverages are so complementary is because workers’ compensation can carry you along, but the third-party claim typically takes an attorney potentially a year to put together. They wait until you plateau out on treatment, they gather the records, they send the records to the insurance company, they negotiate, and that process takes a while. So it's good to have workers’ compensation carrying you along so you can get that one time, large settlement or verdict to last you into the future.

Rob Rosenthal:

So they're not exclusive. You don't have to pick one or the other. You could do both, a third-party claim and workers’ comp.

Galen Trine-McMahan:

Correct. Most of the clients I have seen, they have two attorneys, one for workers’ compensation and one for the injury claim.

Rob Rosenthal:

What if someone is not sure, Galen, if they have a third-party claim? Maybe they think they do, maybe their cousin Bob told him, “Yeah, I think you might.” What should they do?

Galen Trine-McMahan:

Well, the great thing is that consultations are free with just about any third-party personal injury attorney. So you can go and find out, and you can even get a second or third opinion for free.

Rob Rosenthal:

A lot of times when we talk to personal injury attorneys, they stress the importance of getting someone involved early on. Does that apply in these kinds of cases too?

Galen Trine-McMahan:

Oh, definitely. People get hurt in all sorts of ways, even at work, and getting what's called “Letters of Spoliation” or preservation letters out right away is so important to maximize the recovery, preserving your rights. So getting an attorney involved within 30 days is ideal.

Rob Rosenthal:

So they don't need to wait until the workers’ comp claim is done to file another.

Galen Trine-McMahan:

Oh, absolutely not. Again, going back to the analogy of the camper van taking you home; the third party injury attorney is building your home over the course of the year, so if you wait until workers’ comp is done to start building your home and your future, that's not a good plan. You should get a third party attorney involved right away.

Rob Rosenthal:

I like the analogies. It makes it a little easier to follow. Thank you, Galen, I appreciate it.

Galen Trine-McMahan:

Absolutely.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of ask the lawyer. My guest has been Colorado attorney Galen Trine-McMahan.

If you want the best information or you want to be able to choose a lawyer that lawyers choose, make sure to go to askthelawyers.com. Also, please take a second to click the button below. Thanks for watching everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

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