Workers' Compensation FAQs

Colorado Springs And Denver Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you are the victim of a work-related injury, it can be expensive in two ways. First, you may have to stay home without pay to give yourself time to recover. Second, your medical treatment is going to cost money. You have workers' compensation rights that are protected by state laws. You shouldn't have to pay for medical treatment and lost wages if you get hurt on the job. Our Denver and Colorado Springs workers' compensation lawyers can help to remind the insurance companies of their duties to pay for the recovery of injured Colorado workers. Even the insurance companies aren't above the law. Read through the answers to some of our commonly asked questions to educate yourself about Colorado laws that protect the rights of workers, then contact Cliff Enten and his associates.

The Law Offices of Cliff Enten can help you receive the workers' compensation benefits you deserve.

Workers' Compensation FAQs

Who is eligible for workers' compensation?

All employers are required by law to purchase workers' compensation insurance to cover any injuries suffered by their employees. Workers who are independently contracted, volunteers and small businesses sometimes fail to purchase workers' compensation insurance thereby leaving their employees at risk. The best way to know if you are eligible to receive workers' compensation is to know what benefits your employer provides before you are injured. Ask your employer what their workers' compensation policy is. Most areas have existing laws that require your employer to provide you with workers' compensation information in the form of a formal memo or brochure. Often an employer will post the details of a workers' compensation policy in a workplace common area. When you start a new job, try to learn your rights.

If you have trouble finding out about your employer's workers' compensation policy, often a lawyer can help you obtain this information. For specific questions about whether your job makes you eligible to be compensated if you are injured while working, contact the Law Offices of Cliff Enten in Denver and Colorado Springs to speak with our workers' compensation lawyers.

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What workers' compensation benefits does the law entitle me to receive?

In the state of Colorado, there are three types of benefits that injured workers are entitled to:

  • Medical benefits to cover the treatment of your injuries
  • Lost wage benefits to partially compensate you if you are unable to work, forced to work reduced hours, or must be restricted to lighter duties at a lower salary
  • Permanent disability benefits to compensate you in the event of a permanent physical impairment

What should I do if I have been hurt on the job?

If the injury is life- or limb-threatening, then go to the nearest hospital emergency room. A life- or limb-threatening injury is an injury where medical attention is needed immediately to prevent either your death or permanent damage to your body. As soon as you are out of danger, you should notify your supervisor in writing of the injury.

Other injuries should be reported to your employer before you seek medical care. Any injury, no matter how minor, should be reported to your employer. By Colorado law, you must notify your employer in writing of your injury within four days or you may receive a reduction to your workers' compensation benefits. The law states even if you have talked to your employer about the injury, every day after the first four days you delay in reporting the injury in writing will result in the loss of a day's worth of workers' compensation benefits. Our Denver and Colorado Springs workers' compensation lawyers recommend you report the accident/injury as soon as possible.

After a work-related injury has occurred, be as cooperative with your employer as possible. Light duty is work that is less physically demanding than the tasks you were performing prior to being injured. If you are offered light duty, you are required to take it, and you are eligible to be compensated for part of your lost wages if the new duties come with a lower salary. In 1999, the state of Colorado passed a law stating if you are "responsible" for losing your job after a work-related injury, then you are no longer entitled to lost wage benefits. If you are fired or if you quit your job — even if you have already been awarded workers' compensation benefits — then you will lose your lost wage benefits. As a consequence, many employers will fire an employee after an injury has occurred for something as minor as having a bad attitude or being late for work, just to lower the insurance costs they will have to pay for your injury. Be especially careful to follow all of your employer's rules and regulations following an injury. Keep in close contact with the Denver and Colorado Springs workers' compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Cliff Enten in case you run into trouble.

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What kinds of injuries make me eligible for workers' compensation?

You can file a workers' compensation claim for any injury that is job-related. This includes permanently disabling injuries that may occur after a construction site accident or factory machine malfunction, and more temporary injuries such as a sprain or a broken bone after a slip-and-fall accident at the office. Cuts and burns you get from kitchen mistakes in a food service setting can be treated using funds received from workers' compensation. Repetitive stress injuries that often occur in office settings like carpel tunnel syndrome also make employees and other workers eligible for workers' compensation. In some cases, people can be compensated for emotional injuries as well as physical ones. The most common example of this is when convenience store workers receive workers' compensation to pay for psychological counseling after having their lives threatened during a robbery.

What if the injury was my fault?

Colorado is a no-fault state in regard to workers' compensation. This means it doesn't matter whose fault the injury was. You will still receive the same workers' compensation benefits. There are, however, a couple of things that do matter. If it is proven you violated an official workplace safety rule, then your workers' compensation benefits will be reduced by half. The same goes for if drugs or alcohol are found in an injured workers' blood or urine test. Insurance companies will often use these two regulations against you in court. They will argue you violated a company safety policy, and, even if the drugs found in your system were prescription and doctor-recommended, they will argue they likely impaired you from working and contributed to the injury. Our experienced Denver and Colorado Springs workers' compensation lawyers can aggressively represent you in court and ensure you are protected from the often ruthless tactics of the insurance companies.

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Can I choose my own doctor?

The law in Colorado Springs, Denver and throughout the state regarding workers' compensation says your employer is allowed to choose a doctor for you before or at the time of an injury. You are then required to see this doctor to receive treatment for your work-related injury. If you choose to seek medical care from a doctor your employer has not selected, you will not be compensated for any treatment you receive. There are two exceptions to this rule. The treatment you receive from a hospital emergency room for a life-threatening injury right after the accident has occurred does not need your employer's permission. Also, if your employer hasn't chosen a doctor for you to see, you may be able to choose a doctor yourself. Contact one of our Denver and Colorado Springs workers' compensation lawyers right after you have reported your injury. We can help you determine how much time needs to pass before you can choose your own doctor. Remember, once you have been treated by a doctor for your work-related injury, you will need the consent of your employer and their insurance company in order to change doctors. Colorado law says changing doctors requires the consent of both parties: you and your employer, except in certain circumstances. If you are unhappy with your treating physician, contact Cliff Enten or one of his associates at the Law Offices of Cliff Enten to see how we can help get you to the doctor you want.

What is a final admission of liability?

A final admission of liability is an official list of benefits your insurance company has admitted to with regard to your injuries. A final admission of liability is legally binding on the insurance company who issues it. It may not rescind the final admission, unless the insurance company finds a legal reason to stop paying on your claim. Often a final admission of liability is an attempt to close out your workers' compensation claim, and it is very difficult (maybe even impossible) to reopen your claim if you do not file a timely objection.

The first offer that is made by the insurance company is usually less money than you will need to complete your medical treatments and less money than you deserve. If you do not agree with the amount offered to you by the insurance company in the final admission of liability, then you need to file a formal objection. There are strict deadlines for when you can do this. If you do not file an objection in time, you will likely lose at least some of your workers' compensation benefits.

If you haven't already, it is usually best to contact a lawyer on the same day you receive your final admission of liability. Our Denver and Colorado Springs workers' compensation lawyers can help you review the benefits the insurance company is offering you. We've handled hundreds of workers' compensation cases. Once we've reviewed your case, we'll know if what the insurance company is offering you is a fair amount. If the insurance company is trying to cheat you out of the compensation you deserve, we can help you file an objection and defend your rights until you get the money you are entitled to receive. Contact Cliff Enten or one of his associates at the Law Offices of Cliff Enten for free legal advice.

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What do I do if the insurance company has already denied my claim?

If the insurance company has denied your claim, contact the insurance company's claims adjuster and politely ask why your claim was denied. This is not the time to argue or complain. In some cases, your claim may have been denied because the claims adjuster did not have all the information needed to process your claim. If this is the case, ask if the insurance company will reconsider your claim if you send it the missing information. Usually it will agree to consider any new information you can provide. Send it this information as soon as possible to avoid any deadlines that may apply.

If the insurance company had all the necessary information but still denied your claim, then there may be debate over whether the injury was work-related, how badly you were injured or some other issue that requires more investigation. You still have legal options, even after an insurance company has denied your workers' compensation claim, but you will need the advice of a lawyer. Contact our offices in Denver and Colorado Springs for help with your workers' compensation claim.

Can I reopen my claim if I require more medical treatment? When is a claim considered permanently closed?

In Colorado cities such as Denver and Colorado Springs, the state workers' compensation law says a claim is closed when you sign a document agreeing to never seek any additional money or benefits from your employer and insurance company. Just because you have accepted a settlement doesn't mean you are cut off from receiving any other benefits for your injury. If your condition worsens or if you experience more pain over time, you can reopen your claim based on new medical evidence.

It is important to know, however, that reopening a claim is more difficult than filing an objection to a final statement of admission. If you think you are going to need more medical treatment than what your employer's insurance company is currently planning to pay for, it is always best to prevent the claim from being closed in the first place. While you can ask the insurance company to look at the new evidence you have provided them and consider reopening your claim, you will most likely need a lawyer's help to get them to agree to pay for more medical treatment. Insurance companies prefer not to pay at all, and they definitely don't like being asked to pay more. For help with reopening a claim, contact our Denver and Colorado Springs workers' compensation lawyers for free legal advice and a complete case evaluation.

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What if I can't return to my job? What is permanent impairment?

It is a sad but common occurrence when a person cannot return to work after a very severe injury. This is not, however, the same as permanent impairment.

Permanent impairment is awarded if you have incurred an injury that limits your range of motion or if you have documented objective findings for more than six months, for example a bulging or herniated disc. A permanent impairment is not the same as permanent work restrictions which are placed upon an individual to keep them from re-injuring themselves. There are a lot of factors which may entitle an injured worker to permanent impairment benefits. These factors are determined by using the AMA Guidelines and what your medical condition is at the time the injured worker is released from care. Pain and suffering are not taken into consideration for a permanent impairment unless the pain limits certain body functions such as range of motion. Permanent impairment benefits are awarded if you receive a permanent impairment rating.

The laws in Colorado are very strict about the level of disability that is necessary for a person to be declared permanently and totally disabled. Some examples of a permanent total impairment might be a person who is paralyzed from the neck down or a person who can no longer live independently because of severe mental retardation. Permanent total disability benefits exist for workers who will never be able to work again because of a work-related personal injury.

If you are unable to return to the same job for a period of time after you are injured, Colorado law entitles you to compensation for at least some of your lost wages. If you can still work but cannot perform the same job you had before you were injured, your employer will probably assign you lighter duties. Light duties are usually jobs requiring less physical strain than the job you used to do. You are then entitled to receive part of the difference in salary if your light duties pay less than your regular duties. The law requires you to perform the light duties your employer has assigned while you are recovering from your injuries. If you choose not to accept the light duties your employer gives you, then you will lose your right to workers' compensation.

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Couldn't I keep more of the money I was awarded if I handled my own case?

Usually Colorado Springs, Denver and other Colorado residents will get more money if they hire one of our workers' compensation lawyers. Here are the reasons why:

It's true that if you hire a lawyer, they're going to receive a small percentage of your workers' compensation award as payment. It is also true, however, if you don't hire a lawyer experienced in handling workers' compensation cases, you're likely to receive less money overall than you would if you'd hired a qualified attorney. In most cases the insurance company is not going to grant you the amount of compensation you need and deserve to cover the extent of your injuries and the loss of your wages if you don't object to their initial offer. To get the compensation you deserve, you may need to take them to a hearing. An insurance company has the resources to hire the best team of lawyers money can buy. Cliff Enten knows this because he used to work for the insurance companies before he became a private personal injury attorney representing victims.

Don't take on the insurance company's lawyers without the experience and legal knowledge you need to defeat them. Our Colorado Springs and Denver workers' compensation lawyers have experience trying workers' compensation cases, and they know how to win. If you need help with a workers' compensation case, contact the Law Offices of Cliff Enten for a free case consultation.

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