Does Colorado Workers’ Comp Cover Contract Workers?

Workers’ compensation is an essential part of most employment arrangements. This insurance coverage provides benefits for employees who suffer a workplace injury or develop an occupational illness, helping pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and more. 

However, if you’re a contract worker, you may find yourself in a gray area regarding workers’ compensation coverage. Unique to many states, Colorado extends workers’ compensation to some non-employee contract workers—with certain conditions applied.

How Are Contract Workers Classified in Colorado?

Colorado recognizes contract labor as a category of employment. Contract labor is defined as workers who aren’t full-time employees but are not considered independent contractors and are therefore not required to purchase their own workers’ comp coverage.

In Colorado, independent contractors are workers who are not directly employed by the business but are still paid to do work for them. To be classified as an independent contractor, a worker must meet the following requirements:

  • The independent contractor is free from the company’s control and direction when performing their services.
  • The independent contractor belongs to an independent business that is related to the service that he or she provides to the company.

Workers’ Compensation Obligations for Contract Workers

Colorado state law mandates that businesses include contract labor workers in their workers’ compensation policies. This requirement extends to all individuals who’ve received payment throughout the year, whether through 1099 forms, cash transactions, or even uninsured subcontractors.

Because independent contractors are self-employed, they handle their taxes and benefits, including workers’ compensation. However, Colorado law stipulates that a business must include the independent contractor under its workers’ comp policy if any of the following criteria apply:

  • The business provides tools or equipment to the independent contractor.
  • The business controls the contractor’s working hours.
  • The business directs the contractor on how to perform a service.

How to File for Workers’ Compensation as a Contract Worker in Colorado?

If you’re a contract worker injured on the job in Colorado, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, it is important to act quickly to avoid losing your right to benefits. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Seek immediate medical care. You can choose any provider in an emergency, but in non-emergency situations, you will need to see a medical provider from your employer’s designated list. You should receive this list within seven days of notifying them about the injury.
  • Notify your employer about the injury in writing within 10 working days of the incident. Ideally, aim to prove notice as soon as possible to protect your right to benefits.
  • File a Workers’ Compensation Claim (WC 15) with the Division of Workers’ Compensation in Colorado. You have two years from the date of your injury to file this form; if you miss this deadline, your claim will likely be denied.
  • Gather any evidence related to the workplace injury such as photographs, videos, witness information, and a detailed account of what happened. If you have limited access to evidence, your attorney will work closely with you to collect more information and build a compelling case.

Finally, contact a Denver workers’ compensation attorney for assistance. Your lawyer can guide you through the claims process and advocate for your right to maximum benefits. Schedule a free legal consultation to learn more about your options and take your first steps toward recovery.


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