Have you been injured on the job and need a Workers’ Compensation attorney in the Denver, Colorado and Fort Collins areas?
Our Workers’ Compensation lawyers have found that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2005 there were 5,734 work-related fatalities in the United States. Transportation accidents, falls, violent acts, contact with equipment, exposure to harmful substances, fire and explosions comprise some of the work-related incidents that can cause death and injury, providing a cause for Workers’ Compensation attorneys to step in. Accidents happen not only in the private sector but often involve government workers and self-employed workers. Workers’ Compensation injuries and deaths on the job can occur with the young, the old, the experienced and untrained alike. Unfortunately, the workplace is not always safe which is why our experienced Denver, Colorado Workers’ Compensation lawyers are standing by. Our attorneys know the laws when it comes to Workers’ Compensation and can help explain those laws and your rights.
Overview of Colorado Workers’ Compensation law
The Workers’ Compensation systems are laws that were designed to help employees injured on the job or as a result of the job. The goal of Workers’ Compensation is to make it possible, with the help of a qualified Workers’ Compensation attorney, for an injured employee to focus on getting necessary medical treatment and coping financially while missing days, weeks or months of work due to the injuries sustained. Without work comp laws in place, the injured party would most likely be forced to litigate his or her claim against an employer, thus delaying the medical process and deepening financial hardship. Unfortunately, this goal is not always met and injured parties often do not get the assistance they need from knowledgeable lawyers. Disputes arise over treatment, providers and the ability to return to the job many times. This is when having a Colorado Workers’ Compensation attorney fighting for you is most valuable. The lawyers at Bachus & Schanker, LLC are experts in dealing with the types of problems you may face when dealing with a work-related injury.
Our lawyers will help you understand that the Division of Workers Compensation is the entity responsible for administering and regulating Workers’ Compensation laws in the state of Colorado. The Division is supposed to ensure that without excessive cost to employers, the system in place protects workers by making certain that they receive medical and disability benefits.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation claim is similar to submitting a claim to one’s health insurance company. It is a claim, or request, for benefits. Many have experienced this process, and our attorneys know it is not always easy to get the results you want when dealing with insurance companies. You might be passed around to several different agents; you might need to explain your story several different times; and in the end, your benefits might not be covered in the way that they are supposed to be. This is another area where your Colorado Workers’ Compensation lawyer can assist you. By our lawyers doing much of this legwork for you, you will be afforded the capability to just focus on getting better, as opposed to dealing with the red tape a work comp accident and injury may require.
In contrast to an accident that might occur outside of the workplace, negligence is not a factor in job-related incidents. Our attorneys can help you decide is an attributing fault to an employer or an employee for a work-related accident is unrelated to coverage. Workers compensation Colorado is a no-fault system; the issue at hand is whether the accident occurred in the scope of employment. If it can be illustrated that the injury occurred at the workplace in the course and scope of employment, the injured employee will be covered.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if I was injured at work? Do I need a Colorado Workers’ Compensation attorney?
If you have been injured on the job, one of the most important actions to take is to immediately report the injury to your employer. The Date of Injury (DOI) and the First Report of Injury (FROI) are crucial to your case and your benefits. If you do not report your injury within 4 days of the incident, you may lose rights to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Make sure to keep a copy of any information you provide to your employer regarding the incident and injuries and give any and all written information to your Colorado work comp lawyer. Once the claim form is filled out, your employer is obligated to report your injuries to its Workers’ Compensation insurance company, and medical treatment will be available to you through the insurance company’s medical providers, also known as an Authorized Treating Physicians (ATP).
It is possible that your work-related injuries could be severe enough to prevent you from being able to return to work. This can often be a scary reality to face. Should this be the case, temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits may be awarded. There are rules about minimum and maximum limits of TPD, but a general formula would equal about 2/3 of one’s average weekly wage (AWW). Debate can ensue about what a person’s average weekly gross pay consists of. For example, if a construction worker is injured on the job in February, his average weekly gross pay will most likely be less than had the injury occurred during the industry’s busier summer months. Alternatively, if a college professor injured himself or herself while working as a camp counselor during the summer, there would be a discrepancy with regards to what the average weekly gross pay would equal. This is where it helps to have a Colorado Workers’ Compensation attorney fighting for your rights.
What if my injuries are not temporary and I cannot return to my job?
Once an injured party has been treated medically for his or her conditions and a doctor determines that the individual has reached a plateau in treatment, it is said that the individual has reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). It is possible that after having reached MMI, a worker might be able to return to work at his or her full capacity. This is the best case scenario for that individual, as he or she can get back to his/her occupation and resume making a full paycheck.
However, it is also possible that a person who has reached MMI may not be able to return to the specific duties he or she was able to perform before the accident. If this is the case, the individual may receive permanent impairment benefits. There are two types of permanent impairment benefits in Colorado: permanent partial disability (PPD) and permanent total disability (PTD).
Colorado Workers’ Compensation and Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
If a worker has a permanent injury and is able to return to work, even in a different capacity than previously served before the injury, the worker will be entitled to permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. These benefits will be based on the American Medical Association’s disability rating procedures outlined in The Guides to Evaluating Permanent Impairment. The medical provider will assign an impairment rating, or a percentage which illustrates the level of injury. Your Colorado PPD attorney will be able to determine whether your impairment rating is appropriate for your injuries and whether the PPD benefits assigned to you are fair.
There are two different types of Colorado Workers’ Compensation impairment ratings: extremity ratings and whole person impairment ratings. Workers with injuries to arms and/or legs are given an extremity rating. Benefits paid on extremities are based on the severity of the injury and not wage or age. Whole person ratings are assigned to those with head, neck, back and/or torso injuries. In contrast to benefits paid on extremities, benefits on whole person ratings are based on a formula detailed in the Colorado Workers Compensation Act and do take into account wage and age.
Within the definition of permanent partial disability, there are two types of injuries: scheduled injuries and non-scheduled injuries. Permanent impairments to parts of the body including arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, toes as well as vision and hearing are called “scheduled injuries” because these injuries are compensated based on a schedule. The schedule can be found in the Colorado Revised Statutes, specifically at C.R.S. 8-42-107 (2). The statute assigns a value to each of these body parts.
Non-scheduled injuries are those valued outside of a schedule; but the compensation for these injuries still relies on the Colorado Revised Statutes. C.R.S. 8-42-108 (8)(d) is the guide for non-scheduled injuries, including those to the spine, brain and lungs.
It seems that with all these guides and rules, designating a person at maximum medical improvement (MMI) or assigning a disability rating would be pretty straightforward. However, disagreements arise on these topics all the time. This is another area where it is helpful to have an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney in Colorado on your side.
One way to deal with this type of problem is to request a Division Independent Medical Exam, or DIME.
In this way, any arguments over the date of MMI or the disability rating can be addressed with an independent second opinion. It is important to note that the opinion of the doctor performing the DIME is binding, and that overturning this opinion is extremely difficult. Thus, taking care in selecting this doctor is important. Having an attorney experienced in Colorado work comp law assist in this part of the process can be quite helpful. The Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Bachus & Schanker, LLC have knowledge of the available doctors and can provide information as to their level of expertise on various injuries as well as their reputation. Choosing the right doctor, or avoiding the wrong doctor, can often make a difference in the benefits an injured party is awarded.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD) within Workers Compensation Colorado
All persons assigned to permanent impairment benefits receive permanent partial disability (PPD). There are those that are injured to a point at which they can no longer work in any capacity. These individuals will receive what is called permanent total disability (PTD). Similar to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, PTD benefits are generally defined as two-thirds (2/3) of the worker’s wages for the lifetime of the worker. Many factors come into play in this situation, including age, work restrictions, job experience, training, and available positions in the worker’s field in his or her geographic area. As you might imagine, it is difficult to get an insurance carrier to admit that a person is permanently totally disabled and cannot return to any kind of work, even part-time work, or work which earns in a lower wage. This represents yet another area where your Colorado PTD lawyer can provide a great service to you. By making an argument on your behalf and demonstrating your injuries to the judge, the court can order that an injured worker is permanently totally disabled, and then the insurance company must comply with the judge’s orders.
Can a Colorado Workers’ Compensation lawyer help me when I was in a car or trucking on the job, and it wasn’t my fault? Who pays for my injuries?
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident or trucking accident while at work, Workers’ Compensation may not be your only avenue for recovery. For example, if you were driving your company vehicle in the course and scope of employment, and you were involved in an accident which was not your fault, the third party or at fault party will be responsible for compensating you for your damages. Bachus & Schanker, LLC has been recovering money for accident victims, work-related and not, for over 10 years. The firm’s experience with personal injury law, including but not limited to motor vehicle collisions, semi-trucking accidents,Drunk Drivingaccidents, and Aviation and railway accidents is vast, and this knowledge will be used to help resolve your claim quickly and fairly.
If you have been involved in a car or trucking accident related to your job, you initially will report youraccident and injuries to your employer, as this happened during the scope of your employment. Your workman’s comp lawyer here at Bachus & Schanker, LLC can not only handle the Workers’ Compensation portion of your claim, but can also handle setting up the claim with the at fault party’s car insurance company and running this aspect of your claim to ground. You will most likely treat with your company’s Workers’ Compensation medical providers, and the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier will pay for your treatment. At the culmination of the claim with the third party, Workers’ Compensation insurance can, and oftentimes will, subrogate for the amount paid for your medical treatment. This means that from the settlement with the at fault party’s insurance company, money will be paid back to the Workers’ Compensation insurance if they have been providing for your treatment. Bachus & Schanker, LLC knows the intricacies of the relationship between a settlement with Workers’ Compensation and with the at fault party and will be able to advise you with regards to the real dollars that will end up in your pocket. In addition, we have vast experience in negotiating money owed back to providers and parties with a subrogation interest to maximize these dollars for our clients.
What do I do if my employer does not have Workers’ Compensation insurance?
Although it is illegal for most employers to be uninsured for Workers’ Compensation, it can and does happen – similar to how there are some drivers on the road without auto insurance despite the law. An employermust have Workers’ Compensation insurance if they regularly employ three or more workers at one time, or if they regularly employed at least one worker for 35 hours or more per week for 13 weeks or longer during the preceding 52 weeks. Should your employer be illegally uninsured, you may have access to benefits from the Uninsured Employers Fund.