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Why would I need an attorney if I'm injured at work?

The vast majority of Colorado employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. This insurance helps pay the medical expenses, lost wages and disability benefits of an individual who is injured at work or while performing job-related duties. While the basic purpose of workers' compensation insurance seems straightforward, for an individual who is in pain and struggling to overcome an injury, the process of obtaining benefits can quickly become overwhelming.

Under the terms of workers' compensation, when an employee is injured, he or she should notify an employer "within four working days." However, an employee can still file a claim after the four-day mark. The employer should then file the claim with its insurance company. What happens next, depends largely on the insurer’s assessment of an individual’s injury. A workers' compensation claim is either accepted and benefits awarded or a claim may be denied.

In the event a workers' compensation claim is denied, an injured worker could potentially be responsible for the financial costs associated with a work-related injury or illness. Workers' compensation exists to protect and provide financial assistance to injured workers. For individuals who have a claim denied, it's wise to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney who handles workers' compensation claim denials.

In some cases, even when a claim is accepted, an injured worker may experience problems related to poor medical care, delayed or reduced payments or stopped payments. In some cases a worker may also struggle to recover from an injury and may not be able to return to work. Again, in these cases, an injured worker is advised to consult with an attorney.

An attorney will work to ensure an individual receives the maximum benefits amount available under workers' compensation laws. Additionally, in some cases, an attorney may recommend that an individual file a personal injury lawsuit against a third-party employer or other responsible party. 

Source: Colorado Department of Labor & Employment, "Division of Workers' Compensation: Employee's Guide," Aug. 2014

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