Colorado Workers' Compensation
According to the state of Colorado Workers' Compensation Division "it is the intent of the that the Workers' Compensation Act of Colorado be interpreted as to ensure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to injured workers at a reasonable cost to employers". What does this mean to Colorado employees? They can expect compensation in the form of medical benefits and under some conditions wage loss compensation for injuries which they have sustained in the course of normal employment or as a result of an occupational illness or disease.
Occupational illnesses are those that occur as a direct result of the job such as exposure to toxins or chemicals that cause illness. Workers compensation is a compromise between the employee and the employer. Workers are prohibited from suing their employer for work-related injuries and employers are required to provide compensation for injuries without the employee proving employer negligence.
Common Workers' Compensation Injuries in Colorado
Injuries not covered
Colorado workers' compensation will not cover all injuries. Injuries not covered can include any of the following:
- The worker was injured while they were intoxicated.
- The worker injured themselves or another person willfully.
- The worker was injured while engaged in a social or athletic event which was not considered part of the employee's work-related duties.
- The worker was injured from an act of God. There may be exceptions for employees that were exposed to an increased risk due to their job functions than other persons.
- The worker was engaged in horseplay with another employee.
Injuries that may be covered
Common work injuries that may be covered by Colorado workers' compensation laws can include any of the following injuries that may be caused by repeated trauma, mental injuries, physical trauma or an occupational disease. Common types of work-related injuries can include:
- Bone fractures
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Torn Rotator Cuff
- Torn Meniscus
- Bulging disc
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- General Anxiety Disorder
Types of Colorado Worker's Compensation Benefits
Colorado workers' compensation may provide reimbursement for all medical expenses which are deemed "reasonable and necessary". In some cases the Colorado employee may also receive lost wage compensation. It is important to report all work-related injuries as soon as possible. An employee's workers' compensation benefits may be forfeited if the employee fails to report the injury within a specific time. All reports should be made in writing to the employer and should include details about the type, date, place and time of the work injury.
- Medical Benefits - Under Colorado workers' compensation laws, all medical expenses which result from a work-related accident or injury are paid by the employer at no cost to the injured employee. Medical expenses that may be reimbursed by the employer can include: doctor's visits, hospital stays, medications, physical therapy, medical supplies, and x-rays. Medical benefits are paid regardless of the recovery time or amount.
- Temporary Disability Benefits - Colorado workers who are disabled but who are able to continue to perform some type of work in a limited role may be eligible to receive temporary partial disability benefits. This can occur if a doctor allows the employee to resume work duties either part-time or in a limited capacity. Temporary partial disability benefits are paid in Colorado at 2/3 the difference between the employee's wage prior to the injury and the amount paid after the injury.
Colorado workers who are temporarily unable to work in any job will be given temporary total disability benefits. These benefits will equal 2/3 of their average weekly wage at the time of their work injury.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) - Colorado workers who are permanently injured but able to work in some capacity may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits. Disability ratings are assigned based on information provided by the American Medical Association's disability rating procedures which are outlined in The Guides to Evaluating Permanent Impairment. Additional payment amounts may be allocated for permanent disfigurement or scarring of certain parts of the body. Contact a workers' compensation lawyer if you have been permanently injured and review your impairment rating to ensure that is adequately reflects your level of impairment. Unfortunately, there also may be some disagreement on when you have reached your maxim medical improvement level.
- Permanent Total Disability - Colorado workers who are considered permanently and totally disabled due to a severe work related injury or occupational illness may be entitled to permanent total disability compensation or PTD. PTD is 2/3 of the worker's wages at the time of their injury and is paid for the remainder of the worker's life. Many factors are considered prior to awarding permanent total disability including the employee's age at the time of the injury, their job experience, their geographic location and their physical limitations.
- Death benefits - Surviving spouses or dependents of Colorado workers who die from a work-related accident or occupational illness may be entitled to death benefits. Death benefits are usually 2/3 of the employee's weekly wage but can be more or less depending on the relationship of the surviving dependent. Surviving spouses can generally receive death benefits until they remarry or die. Surviving dependent children can receive death benefits until they reach adulthood. Death benefits may be divided evenly between surviving dependents. Burial expenses may also be paid up to $7,000.
Do you need a Colorado attorney
Workers' compensation lawyers in Colorado may be able to help their clients choose appropriate doctors to assist in the disability rating process. They may also provide additional information on various work-related injuries and the type of ratings that should be allocated for different types of injuries. Choosing the right lawyer and the right doctor can make a big difference in the amount of workers' compensation benefits that are awarded to an injured employee.