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Missing workers’ comp deadlines can cost you your rights

Deadlines are important in any type of legal case – especially workers’ compensation. A recent case before the Colorado Court of Appeals illustrates how missing a key deadline can cost you your rights.

The case involves a Goodwill employee who injured his wrist on the job. His workers’ comp insurer approved an initial surgery. However, the employee continued to suffer from wrist pain and sought approval for a second surgery. The insurer denied his request.

At this point, the employee’s doctor issued a determination of maximum medical improvement. This crucial document claimed that no further medical treatments would help the employee’s wrist condition. Based on that document, the workers’ comp insurer closed the case.

Later, however, the employee’s doctor referred him to a second physician. After a thorough examination, the physician recommended a second surgery, and the first doctor agreed. The employee asked to reopen his workers’ comp claim, seeking approval for the second surgery. The workers’ comp insurer refused to reopen the case.

In its recent ruling, the Colorado Court of Appeals agreed that it was too late for the employee to reopen the case. He failed to contest the final decision within the 30-day deadline after the insurer closed the case. As a result, he had no right to appeal.

When pursuing workers' comp coverage in cases like these, time is of the essence. Had the employee sought a second opinion sooner, he may have had grounds to contest the case closure before it became final. Injured workers stand to lose many important rights by failing to meet deadlines. For that reason, it’s critical to consult with an attorney who understands the time frame involved in your case.

Source: Business Insurance, "Goodwill worker, comp insurer dispute equal protection," Sheena Harrison, March 16, 2015.

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