Colorado lawmakers passed the Workers’ Compensation Act back in 1915 “to assure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to injured workers at a reasonable cost to employers.” It’s an enduring piece of legislation that’s managed to balance the interests of both employees and employers for more than a century. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed over time; lawmakers and regulators have updated the statute frequently to keep up with wages, increased litigation, and a bottleneck of cases, as well as rising health care costs and premiums.
It’s little wonder, then, that the law itself weighs in at more than 100 pages with dozens of advisories, amendments, and interpretive bulletins. The rules dictating how the law should be applied are even longer.
Worker’s compensation in Colorado is extremely complicated, to say the least. If you’ve been injured at work, the biggest mistake you can make is to try and navigate that process on your own. You need the help of a Colorado workers’ comp attorney who knows the intricacies of the system and can help walk you through it. A workers’ compensation advocate can and will protect your rights.
If you’ve been hurt at work, call Burg Simpson today at 303-792-5595 or complete our Case Evaluation form to speak with us for FREE before it’s too late!
What Is A Workers’ Compensation Injury?
While there are many others, here are a few examples of events that can be compensable under the Colorado workers’ compensation laws:
- An injury, condition, or death that occurs at work and that is caused by the work environment.
- A mental and/or physical injury or death caused by the intentional or unintentional conduct of a co-employee.
- Injury caused by a person who is not a co-employee and whose conduct is negligent, reckless or intentional.
- Negligence is not a necessary component to obtaining worker’s compensation. If the accident or injury happened at work, workers’ compensation is available in most cases.
- Repetitive motion injuries.
- Injuries to the lungs or other organs of the body as a result of factors in the work environment are compensable as a workers’ compensation claim.
- An aggravation of a pre-existing medical condition due to the work environment can be found to be compensable as a workers’ compensation claim.
- A heart attack due to overexertion, even if the heart attack occurs outside of working hours, can be compensable as a workers’ compensation claim.
If you’ve been hurt on the job, don’t hesitate to call a lawyer for workmans comp from Burg Simpson today at 303-792-5595.
What to do after a Workers’ Comp Injury Has Occured
If you get hurt while on the job, the bureau of workers’ comp requires that you report your injury to your employer within four days. You must also see your employer’s designated medical provider to have your injuries diagnosed and documented. At that point in your workers’ compensation claim, one of two things will be determined:
- You’re able to return to work immediately: If this is the case, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will pay for “reasonable and necessary medical treatment…and any referrals.” You’re not obligated to pay any copays or deductibles.
- Your injury forces you to miss three shifts or it’s expected to be a permanent medical impairment. At this point, Colorado workers’ compensation insurance carriers are required to issue a First Report of Injury form to the Division of Workers’ Compensation. The insurance carrier has 20 days from the filing of that First Report of Injury form to either admit or deny compensability.
If the insurance carrier accepts compensability, they’ll send General Admission forms to the Division of Workers’ Compensation, the employer, and you – the injured employee. Among other things, the GA will detail the Average Weekly Wage and wage replacement benefits the carrier will pay.
It’s important to note that a GA form doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll receive the proper benefits or the appropriate medical care. Your Colorado workers’ compensation attorney at Burg Simpson will review the GA to determine if all your entitled benefits are included and have been calculated correctly. Keep in mind that if a safety violation led to your injury, or if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your workers’ compensation benefits can be cut in half.
On the other hand, if your claim is denied, your employer’s insurance carrier will issue a Notice of Contest instead of the GA form. You can request a hearing to dispute this notice, but it can take as longs as 100 days for a hearing to be set. An Office of Administrative Courts judge will preside over this hearing. You’ll be required to file detailed information about your employment and medical history, since these are the two most critical components of the insurance carrier’s investigation. Lawyers specializing in workers compensation become even more critical at this point.
Injured workers who work with an attorney for workman’s comp are able to secure workman’s comp settlements that are about eight times larger – on average – than employees who represent themselves. Don’t attempt to handle your own workers’ compensation claim alone. Call the best workers’ comp attorney today at 303-792-5595.
How Much Does Workers’ Comp Pay?
You’ve seen a doctor. Your claim’s been approved. Now, you’ve been cleared to start receiving compensation, which can take a couple of different forms:
- Temporary Total Disability benefits are paid if you’re unable to return to work. Typically, these benefits are two-thirds of your pre-injury gross average weekly wage.
- Temporary Partial Disability benefits are paid if you’re able to return to work under a modified duty restriction. This can include either full or part-time work.
Your benefits end if certain criteria are met, regardless of you injury classification. These triggering events include:
- You return to work at your previous wage.
- Your medical provider declares you’re at Maximum Medical Improvement, which means you’re fit for regular, full-time work duties.
- You return to work under modified duty, but at your normal salary.
- Your employer offers you modified duty at your normal salary.
At this point, your employer’s insurance carrier (such as Pinnacol Assurance, for example) will file a Final Admission form, detailing the change in status.
If the doctor determines you have a Permanent Medical Impairment, however, he’ll issue a Permanent Impairment Rating and send it to your employer’s insurance carrier. They’ll then use that rating to determine the amount of your continued benefits.
Keep in mind that this is an incredibly streamlined walk through Colorado’s workers’ compensation claims process. The process is more time-consuming than it appears and often more complex, as well. Consult an experienced attorney for workers comp before you speak with anyone or sign anything. Fill out our Free Case Evaluation form today or call us right now at 303-792-5595.
8 Things to Keep in Mind About Your Workers’ Comp Case
- Your employer’s insurance company is responsible for paying all authorized, reasonable, necessary, and related medical expenses that result from your injury. These can include, but are not limited to, medical examinations, surgeries, assisted transportation, therapy, nursing care, hospitalization, rehabilitation services, prescriptions, home care, pain clinic care, mileage to and from medical appointments and pharmacies, psychological counseling, MRI and CT scans, X-rays, medical supplies, and medical appliances.
- If you’re injured at work and you need immediate medical attention, the law allows you to travel to the nearest hospital or emergency facility, regardless of whether the facility is your standard, authorized workers’ compensation provider.
- Except for cases of true emergency, if you seek treatment from a medical facility or provider who’s not an authorized workers’ compensation provider, you’ll be responsible for the bill.
- Disputes often occur between you and your employer’s insurance carrier about what’s reasonable, necessary, and related medical care. These disputes can be resolved between the insurance adjuster and your attorney. If there’s no resolution, the conflict can be litigated before a judge.
- If you’re not satisfied with your initial health care provider, it’s possible to negotiate for a different provider, as well as for a second opinion from a doctor or surgeon. It’s very important to discuss this with an attorney within the first 90 days after the date of the injury, if possible.
- Your authorized primary health care provider has the right to refer you to other authorized medical specialists.
- Patients have the right to choose whether or not to have surgery. Electing not to have surgery won’t affect your rights to workers’ compensation benefits, and/or a settlement.
- There are limits regarding how long your medical care can last. In certain circumstances, your right to ongoing medical care can continue after you’ve reached Maximum Medical Improvement and your permanent medical impairment has been determined. Although the insurance carrier has no obligation to pay for medical expenses with the authorized, treating physician before they admit liability, they frequently will.
Questions About Colorado Workers’ Compensation
One of the questions that comes to mind when you get hurt is, “What is my case worth?” The answer is complicated, because there are so many factors to consider when determining what a case is worth. The best way to get all of your questions answered about your case is to call us at 303-792-5595 and speak to an experienced workers’ comp injury attorney.
This step-by-step guide through Colorado’s workers’ compensation process doesn’t cover everything that can occur along the way. There’s absolutely no substitute for meeting with a veteran workers’ compensation attorney.
If you’ve been injured at work, get medical attention immediately. Also, keep in mind that your claim starts as soon as you’ve been hurt, so the clock is already ticking. You have four days to report your injury. You also have to consider the workers’ comp claim statute of limitations. Time is not on your side. So call us immediately for your no-cost, no obligation consultation with Burg Simpson’s workers’ compensation lawyers at 303-792-5595.
ACT NOW! CONTACT BURG SIMPSON ELDREDGE HERSH & JARDINE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!