Workers’ Compensation is intended to help those who suffer a work-related injury or illness receive the financial peace of mind they need for medical costs, lost wages and, if necessary, vocational rehabilitation.
The Denver attorneys at the Frickey Law Firm understand the complex Workers’ Compensation process, and we are dedicated to helping injured workers from the greater Denver area pursue the benefits they need. If you or a loved one was injured on the job, please call 303-237-7373 to schedule your free consultation with one of our knowledgeable lawyers.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
The employer liability laws that are today collectively known as Workers’ Compensation became widespread in the United States with the Industrial Revolution, as mechanization and job expansion were accompanied by an increase in work-related injuries.
Workers’ Compensation laws evolved substantially over the course of the 20th century. Initially, Workers’ Compensation at the state level was voluntary and injured employees had to prove that their injuries or ailments were the fault of their employers.
With time, federal and state Workers’ Compensation laws were altered to balance the interests of workers’ needs for adequate medical coverage and wage-replacement benefits while setting liability limits and establishing insurance cost predictability for employers. Though mandated by the federal government, Workers’ Compensation is administered by individual states, and state laws regarding benefits and medical care vary.
Laws governing Workers’ Compensation in Colorado were enacted in 1915. In the years that followed, benefits have been progressively modified to reflect wage increases, changes in industry and other factors. But the language and intent of Colorado’s Workers’ Compensation statute—“to assure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to injured workers at a reasonable cost to employers”—remain as originally written.
Workers’ Compensation in Colorado
In Colorado, Workers’ Compensation is administered by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). With some exceptions, all public and private employers in Colorado must provide Workers’ Compensation coverage if they employ one or more full- or part-time workers.
Unless physically or mentally unable, the injured worker must report an injury or ailment to the employer within four working days of the injury. If the injury or illness is not life-threatening, the worker may select a doctor from one of two medical providers designed by the employer for treatment.
The employer must then notify its insurance provider of the injury within 10 days of being notified by the employee or having knowledge of the incident that caused harm. If the injured worker loses an excess of three days or three shifts from work, or if the injury may result in permanent impairment, the insurer must file a report with the CDLE’s Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Employees who are unable to work for at least three days or three shifts may be eligible for a type of wage replacement known as “temporary disability.” Temporary disability payments begin on the fourth day of lost work and are paid every two weeks in accordance with a timetable established by the law.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Benefits vary based on the extent of injury and the ability of the employee to return to work in his or her previous capacity. Workers’ Compensation benefits may include but are not limited to:
- Necessary and reasonable medical costs
- Wage replacement of two-thirds of the average weekly wage you were receiving on the date of your injury
- Vocational rehabilitation or retraining if the injury prevents you from performing your current job
- Death benefits for surviving family members if the injury or illness results in death
On its Workers’ Compensation FAQ page, the CDLE notes that the average weekly wage includes gross wages or salary, commissions, overtime, tips and per-diem payments reportable to the IRS, value of rent or lodging, and the employee’s cost of continuing the employer’s group health insurance plan.
Types of Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ Compensation covers most, but not all, injuries suffered on the job regardless of fault. Injuries covered include but are not limited to:
- Accident-related injuries suffered on the job
- Illnesses caused by exposure to harmful substances or job-related activities
- Repetitive-stress conditions such as carpal-tunnel syndrome
- Injuries that occur during job-related travel away from the workplace
- Injuries or ailments caused by job-related duties such as heavy lifting
Injuries and ailments that are generally not covered by Workers’ Compensation include:
- Self-inflicted injuries, such as those sustained due to a workplace fight or the negligent use of equipment
- Injuries sustained while committing a crime
- Injuries incurred while the employee was not on the job
- Injuries or ailments otherwise related to a violation of company policy
If you have questions about your eligibility for Workers’ Compensation benefits, it’s advisable to discuss your case with an attorney prior to filing a claim.
How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney can Help
Some Workers’ Compensation claims are resolved easily and quickly. However, some claims are more complex than others, and claims are occasionally disputed by employers or by insurance companies.
Collaborating with a Workers’ Compensation lawyer can ensure that your claim is thoroughly documented and that you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled. In some cases, insurance providers attempt to limit or deny benefits for legitimate claims. If you believe a reasonable Workers’ Compensation claim has been denied, an attorney can review your case and help you file an appeal; appeals must be filed within 45 days of denial.
A Workers’ Compensation attorney can also help protect your rights in the event that an employer threatens retribution for a workplace injury claim. Employers cannot fire, retaliate against or otherwise discriminate against employees who file for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
If you were hurt on the job, or if you believe a valid Workers’ Compensation claim was denied, please contact the Frickey Law Firm online or call us at 303-237-7373 for your free consultation. Our Workers’ Compensation attorneys have decades of experience helping injured workers and their families recover the benefits they need.