A Beginners Guide to Workers Comp Laws in Colorado

Workers’ compensation laws are designed to protect employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. In Colorado, these laws ensure that injured workers receive medical care and compensation without the need for lengthy lawsuits. Understanding the basics of workers’ compensation in Colorado can help employees navigate the process more effectively if they ever need to file a claim.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill due to their job. It covers medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, and rehabilitation costs.

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In exchange, employees generally cannot sue their employer for workplace injuries, except in cases of intentional harm or gross negligence.

Coverage Requirements

In Colorado, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This includes public and private sector employers, as well as those who hire part-time or seasonal workers. Certain exceptions exist, such as for sole proprietors and corporate officers, but these individuals can choose to opt into coverage.

Filing a Claim

If you are injured at work, it’s crucial to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. Workers comp Colorado laws require that injuries be reported within four days. Failure to report within this timeframe can result in a reduction of benefits. Your employer is then responsible for filing a First Report of Injury form with their insurance carrier within 10 days of notification.

Medical Treatment

Medical Treatment

Once an injury is reported, the employer or their insurance carrier will direct the injured employee to a designated medical provider for treatment. Employees generally must use these designated providers unless they need emergency care or the employer has not provided a list of authorized providers.

Workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado include:

  • Medical Benefits: Coverage for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to the injury, including doctor visits, surgeries, medications, and physical therapy.
  • Temporary Disability Benefits: Compensation for lost wages if the employee is unable to work for more than three days. Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits are calculated at two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage.
  • Permanent Disability Benefits: Compensation if the injury results in permanent impairment. This can be either Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) or Permanent Total Disability (PTD), depending on the severity of the impairment.
  • Death Benefits: If a worker dies as a result of a job-related injury or illness, their dependents may receive death benefits, including compensation for funeral expenses and a portion of the worker’s lost wages.

Disputes and Appeals

If a claim is denied or there is a dispute regarding benefits, employees can request a hearing with the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation. It’s advisable to seek legal representation in such cases to ensure your rights are protected and to navigate the complex appeals process.

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