Though Colorado has had workers' compensation laws in place for decades, most people have little need to know about them until sustaining a workplace injury or illness.
How the Process Begins
The Colorado workers' compensation process begins when you sustain an injury on the job. If the injury threatens your life or a limb, you should seek immediate medical attention before doing anything else.
If the injury doesn't threaten your life or a limb, before getting medical attention, you must inform your employer of the injury, verbally and in writing, within four days. Failure to provide notice in writing does not prevent a worker from claiming an injury. However, the insurance carrier may try to claim that the injury never happened. Notice in writing is helpful in proving an injury actually occurred. Clearly, when an accident is witnessed by the employer or a co-employee, written notice is not as important. Still, notice in writing is best.
If your employer has a designated health care provider, you are required to see that provider for your medical care.
If your injury or occupational illness prevents you from working for more than three days, the insurance company has 20 days to notify you if your claim will be paid (known as an Admission of Liability) or denied (known as a Notice of Contest).
If you are eligible for lost wage benefits, you will begin to receive payments every two weeks for partial reimbursement of lost wages. Payments are two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $810 per week. These are called "temporary total disability benefits."
Denial of Benefits
In many cases, even employees who have been seriously injured are denied benefits. . They may well be entitled to extensive benefits including lost wages and medical treatments. However, if the claim is denied by the insurance carrier, benefits are usually not paid.
If you are denied benefits, you can ask that the matter be heard by an administrative law judge. . Prior to going to hearing, most injured workers hire a workers' comp lawyer to help with the litigation process.
The case is heard by an administrative law judge who examines the evidence, documents and testimony before rendering a decision.
If that decision is unfavorable, you may appeal by filing a petition to review.
Protection of the Law
Colorado's workers' compensation laws are there to protect injured employees or workers who acquire a work-related disease or illness. If the system unfairly denies you the benefits to which you believe you are entitled, contact a Colorado workers' compensation attorney. A workers' comp lawyer will review the facts to determine if your case has merit and help you fight for crucial lost wages and medical care.