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Claiming benefits for a work injury outside Colorado

Imagine this scenario: You are a resident of Colorado and work in the Denver area, but occasionally travel outside Colorado to perform your assigned work duties. While working in another state, you suffer injuries in an accident. Can you claim workers' compensation benefits in Colorado? Do you have to claim them in the state where you were injured? Or are you just out of luck?

In the scenario described above, Colorado statutory and case law says that you can claim benefits from the Colorado workers' compensation system.

Who is eligible to claim workers' comp benefits in Colorado?

Just who is and who isn't eligible to claim Colorado workers' compensation benefits can be complicated questions. Generally speaking though, a person is eligible when any two of the following conditions are met:

  • There is a contract of employment created in Colorado.
  • There is employment in Colorado under a contract created outside Colorado.
  • The worker is substantially employed in Colorado.

In U.S. Co. v. Industrial Com., 61 P.2d 1033 (Colo. 1936), the Supreme Court of Colorado held that the third of these is the most important, saying "It thus appears that to justify recovery under our law the one essential element is that a substantial portion of the work must be done in this state."

So it doesn't matter if you are a truck driver who travels outside Colorado on a regular basis or a salesperson who attends just one out-of-state trade show a year. If you are injured while working, you can still claim Colorado workers' compensation benefits.

Get legal advice after an out-of-state work accident

Workers' compensation laws are different in every state, and in some cases, a Colorado resident may be able to claim benefits from the state in which the injury occurred. But keep in mind the fact that different states pay varying levels of workers' compensation benefits. You may be much better off claiming benefits in Colorado than in the state where you were injured. An experienced Colorado workers' compensation attorney can review your situation and advise you.

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