Admission of Liability: There are no Do-Overs in Workers’ Comp
Workers’ compensation claims have been a classic case of “good news, bad news,” for several years now. The numbers of claims filed each year nationwide have been falling for the last decade, and experts predict a continued downward trend of at least 1 percent for the next year. On the other hand, the severity of claims, including medical costs per claim, has been climbing at 2 percent a year. In short, workers are not getting hurt at on the job as much, but when they do, it is more expensive than ever.
That could help explain why employees are so reluctant to take time off from work when they get hurt on the job. If they do decide to file a claim, go to the doctor, and take some time, it is rarely for more than a couple of days. Most employees don’t want any trouble, and they certainly don’t want to risk losing their job.
Workers’ Comp Medical Payments Are Not Admissions
In Colorado, an employee who gets hurt at work has four days to report that injury to their employer, who then has 10 days to make their own report to their insurance carrier. After that, the insurance company has 20 days to file their admission (or denial) of liability.
In the meantime, though, the carrier might cover all or some of an employee’s medical bills. That act of perceived generosity, or even responsibility, leads a lot of injured workers to believe their claim is progressing through the system because it looks like the carrier has admitted liability. If the employee has not missed that much work, it makes that misguided assumption that much more reasonable. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, that apparent act of kindness does not mean a thing to the Colorado legal system. In fact, there is an ulterior motive behind this responsiveness. Insurance companies would much rather dictate your choice of medical professionals. Obviously, they want to work alongside physicians or medical groups they have established relationships with and who are as familiar with the system as they are. These relationships, while perfectly legal and acceptable, only serve to put an uninformed employee further behind in the process.
It is also critical to keep in mind that once an employee returns to work, the carrier can deflect blame from any future absences from the original injury, in a bid to absolve themselves from further liability. Employees need to look past their pride if they think they need more time to recover. Injured workers need to speak openly with their primary care provider, and heed their professional medical advice.
Admissions Aren’t Settlements
When an employee does receive a final admission of liability form, they often mistake it for a case settlement. That is wrong. It is an acknowledgment of responsibility, but it often includes a lower than possible financial offer in the interest of settling the claim quickly. Not only is it critical that injured employees retain legal counsel to help object to this initial offer, but it’s also vital that it is done in a timely manner. Employees with work comp claims have a 30-day window to push back on this admission of liability before the case closes. Once that door is shut, it is incredibly difficult to reopen. Remember, there are rarely do-overs in Worker’s Compensation cases.
When in consideration of Colorado workers’ comp lawyers, injured employees should inquire about the lawyer’s extent of experience up front. Someone who has a great deal of experience in the system knows what doctors a specific insurance carrier may try to use and will also know how to get you the care you need most efficiently. This will only save you time and money along with making your claim more valuable.
Every Worker’s Compensation case is different but every one of them is a race against time. If you have been injured while on the job, you do not have any time to lose. Burg Simpson will evaluate your case at no charge and without any obligation, we are here for you! If you have been injured and need help navigating an already complicated system, call a Colorado workers’ compensation attorneys at 303-792-5595 or fill out our free case evaluation form here before it is too late.