The good news: If you get hurt at work, you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado, including medical and disability benefits, regardless of who was at fault. The bad news: These benefits come with limits. For instance, workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering. Also, financial and time limits apply to the benefits which workers and their families receive. We discuss those limits in more detail below.
Despite their limits, workers’ compensation benefits can play a key role in the recovery process for injured workers and their families. If you are eligible for these benefits, you should seek help right away from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at The Sawaya Law Firm. Since 1977, we have protected the rights of workers in Denver, Greeley, Colorado Springs and throughout Colorado. We are ready to put that experience and dedication to work for you.
Types of Colorado Workers’ Comp Benefits – In a Nutshell
Before we discuss the limits to workers’ compensation benefits, let’s provide a brief summary of the types of benefits available to those who suffer injuries on the job in Colorado. Those benefits are:
- Medical Benefits – These benefits cover all medical treatment that you need for your work-related injury or illness, including transportation to and from your medical appointments. You pay no deductible or co-pay or carry any financial obligation for your treatment.
- Temporary Disability Benefits – You qualify for these benefits if you suffer a work injury that completely prevents you from going back to work (total) or allows you to return to work in a lesser-paying role on a restricted basis (partial). Total benefits are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage at the time of your injury. Partial benefits are equal to two-thirds of the difference between what you earn now and what you earned before the injury.
- Permanent Disability Benefits – You can receive three types of permanent partial disability benefits:
- Scheduled loss – If you lose or lose functional use of a body part listed in a Schedule, you can receive compensation for a certain period of weeks.
- Disfigurement and scarring – These benefits pay for treatment of serious facial scarring or a disfiguring injury.
- Whole person impairment – Once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), a doctor will assign an impairment rating to you. The rating will reflect how your impairment relates to your body as a whole. This rating will be used to calculate the amount of benefits that you receive.
If you are permanently and totally disabled – in other words, you can never return to work because of your work-related injury – then you can receive benefits at your temporary disability benefit rate for the rest of your life or until you are no longer permanently and totally disabled.
- Death benefits – If you are a surviving dependent, you can be eligible to receive funeral and burial expenses as well as death benefits that will continue for a period of time. These benefits are equal to two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage at the time of the fatal accident.
Do Limits Apply to Medical Benefits?
Your employer (or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier) must cover all of the treatment for your injury, including emergency care, surgery, hospitalization, tests, medication and rehabilitation. No time or money limits apply to these benefits. Workers’ compensation should cover the care that you need for as long as you need it.
Do Limits Apply to Disability Benefits?
You should receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage at the time of injury if you suffer a temporary total or a permanent total disability. If you suffer a temporary partial disability, you should receive two-thirds of the difference between your pre- and post-injury wages. If your loved one died from a work injury, then you should receive two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage at the time of his or her death.
However, limits apply. The Division of Workers’ Compensation raises the rates each year. Currently, the maximum benefit rate is $1,022.56. To get benefits at this rate, you must have earned at least $1533.84 per week.
Additionally, Colorado limits the amount that a worker can receive in combined temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits. The current limits are:
- $94,330.19 if the worker’s impairment rating is 25 percent or lower
- $188,658.00 if the rating is greater than 25 percent.
The maximum lump sum settlement of an injured worker’s or sole dependent’s claim is $94,330.19 (and $188,658.00) if there are multiple dependents.
Limits apply to two other types of benefits. First, you can currently receive up to $5,413.52 for disfigurement and up to $10825.13 for extensive body or facial scars, burn scars or stumps resulting from the loss of limbs.
Second, the scheduled loss rate is set at $320.90. Remember: You receive scheduled loss benefits for the number of weeks assigned to that body part. For instance, for loss or loss of use of the hand below the wrist, the limit is 104 weeks. If you suffer only partial loss, your number of weeks is reduced according to the percent of loss. For example, if you suffer only 50 percent loss of use of your hand below the wrist, your scheduled loss benefits would stop after 52 weeks.
Are Workers’ Comp Death Benefits Limited, Too?
If your loved one died from a work-related injury or illness, you should receive two-thirds of your loved one’s average weekly wage at the time of the fatal injury or illness. However, you are subject to the same $1,022.56 cap that we discussed above. The length of the benefits will depend on your relation to the deceased worker.
- If surviving spouse – You can receive benefits for the rest of your life or until you remarry.
- If dependent child – You can receive benefits until you reach age 18 or until you reach age 21 if you can show that you are still dependent or in school.
- If parents, grandparents or other relatives – If you can show that you were dependent on the worker, you can receive these benefits for life or until you would no longer be dependent.
Get Help Today from an Experienced Colorado Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have any concerns about the amount that you are receiving in workers’ compensation benefits, or if you are having a hard time with getting the benefits you deserve in the first place, contact The Sawaya Law Firm right away. We will put more than four decades of experience and dedication on your side.