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Misconceptions about Colorado Workers’ Compensation

By Burg Simpson

Colorado workers' compensation misconceptions can leave injured workers without options for financial help.

November 26, 2018   Blog, Colorado Workers' Compensation

For Colorado, workers’ compensation law is a big deal. Every year about 112 Coloradans die in an accident on the job. That works out to one death every three to four days, according to data collected by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Thousands more employees suffer accidents that leave them injured and unable to go back to work right away.

In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, more than 27,200 Colorado workers missed time from work because of an injury on the job – while 73 employees suffered fatal injuries. That’s a slight jump from the year before and the highest numbers of accidents in five years.

If you’ve been in an accident on the job that’s left you seriously injured, a workers’ compensation attorney can help.

Common Colorado Workers’ Compensation Misconceptions

Colorado workers’ compensation law is complicated and a process many find difficult to navigate. As a result, misconceptions about the law and the process can discourage injured workers from finishing the claim. In many cases the employer is unwilling or reluctant to file the claim with the insurance company, or they ask the employee to say it wasn’t work related and have it covered under their health insurance.  The injured worker sometimes agrees with these things because they don’t want to lose their job, or want to help the employer out, but it is the injured worker that will suffer in the end if the injury is anything other than minor bumps and bruises. Injured employees must file a claim if the employer doesn’t, and must stay on the employer to do the right thing to have any chance at receiving workers’ comp benefits. Avoiding these common mistakes in the process will help you protect your rights and receive the benefits you are owed.

Misconception 1: Only Big Employers Offer Workers’ Comp

Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Colorado law: “All public and private employers in Colorado, with limited exceptions, must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees if one or more full-time or part-time persons are employed. A person hired to perform services for pay is presumed by law to be an employee. This includes all persons elected or appointed to public sector service and all persons appointed or hired by private employers for remuneration.” Employers pay the premiums for workers’ comp coverage, and in fact, the law prohibits employers from deducting any part of premium payments from employee paychecks. Also being labeled by the employer an independent contractor doesn’t necessarily mean that is so for workers compensation purposes.

Misconception 2: Employers Do Not Have To Report Every Little Injury

Employers are required to report all injuries to the insurance carrier. Injuries that do not result in death, permanent disability or at least three lost shifts do not need to be reported to the state, however if the employee subsequently misses three days then they will have to go back and report it. Those three shifts do not need to be consecutive, they can be spread out but normally the employee will need the authorized treating doctor to take them off work for the time to count as lost time due to injury.

Misconception 3: It Isn’t Necessary to Report Your Work-Related Injury Immediately

This can be the costliest misconception of all. In Colorado, injured workers must report their injury – in writing – within four days of the incident. Your employer must then file their report with their insurance company within 10 days. Failing to report your injury in a timely manner can hurt your claim, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t proceed. Many employers will tell an employee that if they didn’t report the injury in 4 days that they are out of luck. This is wrong. An employee has two years from the date of injury to file a workers claim for compensation in Colorado, however the longer you wait  the more likely that the claim will be denied by the insurance company and the harder it is to be successful on the claim if you have to go to a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Report the injury, even if you think its not much and will get better over the weekend, or with a little time off.

Misconception 4: I Will Have to Pay Upfront and Be Reimbursed for Medical Treatment

This isn’t true, either. The employer has to provide you with the names of at least 4 clinics or doctors that you can see for your injury at the time that you get hurt. If you go to one of those physicians then the workers compensation carrier will pay for any authorized treatment from that doctor or their referrals. If you see a doctor outside of this chain of referral it is unlikely that you will get reimbursed for the treatment. There is no copay or deductible for medical treatment in workers’ comp so you should not be out of pocket for anything if you treat with the designated clinics or doctors.

If you’ve been hurt at work, get professional as quickly as possible. Colorado’s workers’ compensation law is incredibly complex and requires the expertise of a trained workers’ comp lawyer. Get help from the experts at Burg Simpson Colorado by calling 303-792-5595 of by filling out our Free Case Evaluation form so we can fight for the compensation you deserve.

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