Colorado, like other states, places a statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims. These claims allow you to seek compensation from your employer’s insurance company if you are hurt on the job. In most cases, injured workers in Colorado have two years from the date of an accident to do file their claims. In certain cases, a judge may extend the statute of limitations to three years.
If you filed your claim before the statute of limitations expired and are not satisfied with the insurance company’s decision, you can take the matter to a Colorado workers’ compensation judge for a hearing. If you are still unsatisfied with the judge’s decision, you can appeal further and pursue the benefits which you need and believe you deserve.
Before you move forward, however, you should seek help from the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at The Sawaya Law Firm. Since 1977, we have protected the rights of injured workers and their families in Denver and throughout Colorado. We can provide a free review of your case. Call or contact us online today to get started.
If you are unable to resolve a dispute about your claim with your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, you can request a formal hearing to resolve the dispute. Prior to the formal hearing however, you can also request a pre-hearing. A pre-hearing is a meeting with an administrative law judge. The judge may order both sides to attend to discuss the dispute. The judge may also order you or the other side to bring documentation that will help the judge to make a decision.
Instead of a pre-hearing, you may wish to ask for a settlement conference. An administrative law judge will also be present at this proceeding. However, each party must attend only voluntarily. The goal of a settlement conference is to resolve the disputes. If you are unhappy with the result, you can still move on to a formal hearing.
Request for a Full Hearing
You must request a formal hearing within 45 days of the date when Notice of Contest was mailed to you. The Notice of Contest is a form you receive if your employer or its insurer denies your Colorado workers’ compensation claim. Keep in mind that the 45-day time limit for you to request a full hearing runs from the mailing date – not the date you received it.
A formal hearing is a proceeding which is held before an administrative law judge. Like in a pre-hearing, both sides can present evidence during a full hearing. Also, a court reporter will transcribe the proceedings. If you do not attend this meeting, the judge may not decide in your favor.
You can submit your Application for Hearing online or by mail or fax. You can also submit it to your local Colorado Office of Administrative Courts. It is important that you also mail a copy to your employer’s insurance company, as this is a requirement. As you wait to receive the date of your hearing, all parties involved in your dispute can try alternative dispute resolution, including a pre-hearing, mediation or arbitration.
Does Arbitration Help?
Whether arbitration will help with your workers’ compensation claim depends solely on the facts of your case. Arbitration is a less-combative way to resolve disputes between employers, employees and insurance companies. The rules of evidence and procedure are more relaxed, and the case is sometimes resolved more quickly. However, if a case is decided at arbitration, the decision is final. If you are not happy with it, you cannot go through the appeals process.
What If You Disagree with the Judge’s Decision?
Once an administrative law judge makes a decision on your workers’ compensation claim, the judge will issue an order. You will receive this order in the mail. If you disagree with it, you can file an appeal.
If you haven’t done so by this stage, it will be crucial that you hire a workers’ compensation attorney. The workers’ compensation appeals process is long, complex and arduous. The procedural rules for appeals are strict. If you make one small mistake, you could lose your right to appeal.
The first step is to file a Petition to Review within 20 days from the date when the judge’s order was mailed. Again, this is not the date you received it. If you mistakenly submit your petition more than 20 days after you received the order, you will likely be barred from pursuing an appeal. An attorney at The Sawaya Law Firm, however, can make sure that mistakes like that don’t happen.
You will also have to order a transcript of your hearing. An attorney from our law firm can draft a written request to the court reporter that recorded your hearing and formally ask for the transcript.
Navigating the Appeals Process
When appealing a decision on your workers’ compensation claim, you must also submit a brief to the administrative law judge. This brief will contain the legal arguments that you make in your appeal. The other side will also submit a brief.
After the judge reads both briefs, the judge will make a decision or send the appeal to the Industrial Claim Appeals Panel. The Panel will review the briefs submitted by both sides along with the judge’s decision. The Panel will make a decision within 60 days of receiving the case and mail its decision to you.
Even if an administrative law judge and the Industrial Claim Appeals Panel has denied your claim, you can still go further in the appeals process. The first step is appealing to the Colorado Court of Appeals. You must do this within 20 days of the decision.
If your case is not successful in the Court of Appeals, you can appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. However, this is the highest court in Colorado, and it has discretion over which cases it hears.
Our Colorado Workers’ Comp Attorneys Can Help with Your Claim
Filing a workers’ compensation claim may sound like it is a straightforward process, but it rarely is. To protect your claim, you need an experienced and dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. If you have been injured at work, call The Sawaya Law Firm to get the help you need from the very beginning of your case. If your claim has already been denied, we can help with your appeal, too. It is a complicated process, and you shouldn’t try to navigate it on your own. Contact us today for your free consultation.