With a few exceptions, any Colorado company that employs one or more people – on a full-time or part-time basis – must carry workers’ compensation insurance. These policies cover on-the-job injuries and occupational illnesses – everything from broken bones to carpal tunnel syndrome. A worker can collect these workers’ compensation benefits without having to show that the employer or anyone else was at fault.
Colorado workers’ compensation benefits can cover health care expenses brought on by a worker’s injury or illness. They can also provide compensation for a portion of the worker’s lost wages, and in some cases, total and partial disability benefits. For help with determining whether you have a valid workers’ compensation claim – and the amount of benefits available to you – contact an experienced Colorado workers’ compensation attorney at The Sawaya Law Firm as soon as possible. We can provide a free consultation about your case.
How Do I Qualify for Workers’ Compensation in Colorado?
Generally, anyone who is hired to perform a service in exchange for pay is presumed to be an employee. As an employee, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado if you suffer a work-related injury or illness. In our state, eligible employees include anyone who has been:
- Elected or appointed to public sector service job
- Appointed or hired by a private employer.
However, Colorado workers’ compensation benefits are not available to workers who are designated as independent contractors. Other exempt employees include:
- Those employed by a company to provide casual maintenance or repair work for less than $2,000 a year
- Workers employed by a private homeowner to provide part-time domestic or repair work
- Real estate agents and brokers
- Contractors who provide transportation services
- Federal employees and railroad workers.
Just because an employee qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits does not automatically mean that his or her injuries will be covered. Colorado law specifically prohibits employees who suffered injuries in certain circumstances from recovering benefits. Those circumstances are when the injury is:
- Sustained during a fight at work
- The result of the employee being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.
Additionally, no workers’ compensation benefits will be available to an employee who suffers an injury while performing something other than work-related duties – even if the injury occurs at the workplace or in a company vehicle. For example, the employee may get injured while taking a break to run a personal errand.
What Are Different Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado, you may be eligible to receive:
- Medical benefits – These benefits cover all injury-related diagnosis and treatment, including the cost of hospital stays, physical therapy, doctor’s appointments, prescriptions and transportation to medical appointments.
- Wage-loss benefits – Those who are completely unable to work for more than three days after their injury can also collect temporary disability payments, which typically equal two-thirds of a person’s average weekly wage, up to a statutory maximum. Generally, injured employees can collect these disability payments until:
- They can return to full-time work.
- Their treating physician gives them permission to work in a modified position.
- Their doctor finds that they have reached maximum medical improvement.
- Permanent disability benefits – If an injury or medical condition is so severe that a person is ruled unable to work in any capacity, or the person must work in a less-demanding and less-profitable position, he or she will be eligible to receive permanent benefits at the same temporary disability rate for life. This amount, however, could be offset by any amounts received in Social Security disability benefits or through a disability pension. Some injured employees may also qualify for compensation for permanent scarring or disfigurement.
So, How Much Will Workers’ Compensation Pay?
Ultimately, how much a workers’ compensation insurer pays to an injured party depends on the severity of the injury in question and the amount that the individual was earning prior to the injury. The former will require an impairment rating that takes the form of a percentage. This percentage then dictates the amount of benefits that a person can collect and for how long.
There is, however, a limit on how much an injured employee can receive in temporary total disability benefits and partial disability benefits. For instance, in 2019, a worker with an impairment that is rated as 25 percent disabling or less can collect no more than $94,330.19, while a worker with a whole-body impairment rated as 25 percent or more disabling can receive no more than $188,658.
What Are the Benefits of Workers’ Compensation?
One of the most significant benefits of filing a workers’ compensation claim is that, unlike with a personal injury lawsuit, claimants do not have to provide proof of negligence, recklessness or other wrongful conduct in order to receive compensation. Instead, injured employees need only to submit a claim notifying their employer of the injury within four days of the accident.
Colorado employers have the right to specify which doctors and medical providers injured employees must visit in order to receive compensation for medical expenses. So, injured workers should be careful to seek medical assistance from the list of providers offered by their employer.
As long as an employee fulfills these requirements and was not engaged in an altercation at the time of the injury, did not purposely injure himself or herself and was not intoxicated at the time of the accident, he or she should qualify for benefits through the workers’ compensation system.
Because evidence of fault is not necessary when filing for workers’ compensation benefits, these types of claims should be non-adversarial in nature. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Contact an Experienced Colorado Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you have encountered any problems with getting the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve, contact The Sawaya Law Firm. We make ourselves available to our clients on a 24/7 basis. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at any time with your workers’ compensation-related questions and concerns. We are ready to go to work for you.