Having just suffered an injury while working, you may be wondering what to do now. Be assured that you have the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits. But to get those benefits, you have to be proactive. There are things you have to do and deadlines you have to meet.
To facilitate the efficient processing of claims, the Colorado workers’ compensation system requires injured workers, employers, and insurers to meet certain deadlines. This blog post will discuss these deadlines from the worker’s perspective and what a claimant should do if he or she misses a deadline.
Deadlines for injured workers
Reporting your injury – By law, you must report your injury to your employer within four working days of the injury. This report must be done in writing, and not just verbally.
What if you miss the four-day deadline? You can still file a workers’ compensation claim. However, if your employer has posted a notice regarding the four-day deadline, you could lose up to one day’s compensation for every day you miss past the deadline. If you are physically or mentally unable to provide notice, another person can report on your behalf. The insurer then has 20 days in which to admit or deny liability for the claim. If the insurer denies the claim, it will send a Notice of Contest letter to the claimant.
Receipt of Notice of Contest – The injured worker has 45 days from the date of the mailing to respond by filing an Application for Expedited Hearing. This will start the process that will lead to an administrative hearing concerning the claim. If you have received a Notice of Contest, things will definitely get more complicated from now on. This is the time to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Contesting the Final Admission of Liability – The insurer may accept your claim, but you may disagree with what the insurer has agreed to, regarding maximum medical improvement, whole person impairment, or some other provision contained in the Admission. You then have 30 days from the date of the mailing to request a hearing.
One-Time Change of Physician – If an injured worker wants a one-time change of physician, the worker must provide notice to the insurer within 90 days of the date of the injury, but before reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Unemployment benefits – Injured workers who are not employed after having been released to work by their doctors have four weeks to file an unemployment benefits claim. If a worker misses this deadline, the worker can still file, but he or she may lose some or all unemployment benefits.
Employer fails to report the injury to its insurance company or no Admission of Liability is received – The injured worker has up to two years (or three years with a reasonable excuse) to file a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
If you have questions about your work injury claim or you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits, you should speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.