Recover your benefits for work injuries in Colorado
Workers’ compensation is a very tricky area of law. Many attorneys refer those cases to specialists because of their complicated, convoluted nature. To succeed in this type of case, you need someone who knows the law inside and out.
This type of program exists to protect employees while on the job and help them in the event of injury. If you are seriously hurt at work, the future must be considered -- especially whether you can perform the same functions upon recovery. You and your family need to be financially protected, which is why you should never take chances with your case.
How do you know if you will succeed with a workers’ compensation case? What factors play into an adjuster deciding benefits?
Get the right representation
Insurance adjusters, no matter their industry, pay more attention if the insured is represented by an attorney. As a layperson, you likely have not studied the specifics of workers’ compensation law. The adjuster knows this, and saving the insurance company money is one of that person’s biggest priorities. Make sure you are not assisting them.
Colorado law states that if a worker contributed to his or her own injury, benefits can be reduced up to 50% (though that can only happen in a limited set of circumstances; in fact, even if a worker has contributed to his or her own injury, they are often still entitled to full benefits). Is that something you would know when talking to an adjuster? Would anyone beside an adjuster and a workers’ compensation attorney know this?
Having representation means you do not have to study Colorado workers’ compensation law, nor will you have to deal with the insurance company alone. It is no longer your responsibility to know whether benefits might be reduced because of X, Y or Z. This allows you to focus on healing and adjusting to your new life. Peace of mind can help you not expend unnecessary energy or experience stress that could compromise your healing process.
Find someone knowledgeable
Workers’ compensation law is difficult, filled with details often overlooked by less familiar attorneys. This type of law is normally learned on the job, since most law schools do not teach the subject. It is not an area in which one “dabbles,” like a general practice that happens to also provide this service. Ask your lawyer if he has lectured or written any treatises on the subject. Get an idea of how much workers’ compensation experience he has before signing any fee agreement. Does he mostly devote his practice to it, or is it treated as an afterthought?
A more experienced attorney who has spent years in this field is someone you want on your side. He or she will know recent changes in the law and stay abreast of current developments.
Try to work with an approved medical provider
If you have an on-the-job injury, make your best attempt to use your employer’s list of approved medical providers. While other types of cases allow for a victim to choose his or her own doctors, and even if you have a doctor with whom you are already comfortable, a workers’ compensation case controls more of that process.
Please note that even in a workers’ comp case, you can still choose your own medical providers. However, benefits might not cover your chosen providers; this would mean paying for your own treatment, which can become quite costly.
It is your employer’s responsibility to provide this list of designated medical professionals to you within seven days of your accident. Make sure to pursue this, as your claim might be denied outright if you visit non-designated doctors for treatment.
Provide detailed information
Many claims are denied because the initial submission did not provide enough information. By providing all necessary details up front, including specific accounts of your injuries, you lessen the risk of having to appeal a denial. Doing a fair amount of frontloading in a workers’ compensation claim can save trouble later in the process. Collect everything relevant, even if you believe it might only be tangential to your claim.
Also, remember to be honest. For instance, marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational purposes in Colorado. It is still illegal on the federal level, and doctors cannot officially prescribe it. What if your employer has instituted a drug-free workplace? What if it contributed to your injury somehow? How should that be handled in a workers’ compensation claim? (Your benefits certainly will not cover a marijuana treatment regimen, no matter how legitimate it is.)
Need legal assistance?
If you want to receive all the benefits to which you are entitled, you must find someone who knows Colorado’s laws and how they affect workers living there. Use the Enjuris directory of law firms to find the best workers compensation attorney for your case.
Lyla Peterson says
That’s a good point that your functioning after recovery should be taken into consideration. My sister slipped and fell at work last week, and there may be lasting damage to her ankle. I will let her know to mention this when speaking with a worker’s comp attorney in the area.
Melissa Gold says
Hi, Lyla. Thank you for taking the time to comment! I hope your sister has a quick recovery. We appreciate your feedback!
Taylor Hansen says
I remember talking to my brother about his fall at work and how is back is still been hurting him a lot. Thanks for mentioning collecting relevant information and other files to help with the case. Is there a grace period from the accident to filing a case?
Levi Armstrong says
Jennifer, I like that you said that in looking for a workers’ compensation attorney, I should look for someone who has years of experience in this field. That’s why I should schedule a free consultation first and ask them about their experience in handling similar cases in the past before signing any fee agreement. My dad is looking for a workers’ compensation attorney for my mom, who’s currently in the hospitable after a damaged copy machine in her office exploded when she was using it. I’ll share this tip with him later so he can find the best lawyer in town for mom. Thanks a lot!
Ian Pisarcik says
Thanks for the comment. Good luck!
Thomas Clarence says
I thought it was really interesting when you talked about how insurance adjusters will pay more attention if someone is represented by a lawyer. I would imagine that it would be important to be able to prove negligence if you are trying to claim workers’ compensation benefits. It seems like a lawyer would be able to provide help when you are trying to gather evidence and build a strong case.
Ian Pisarcik says
Thank you for the comment, Thomas.