Workers’ compensation benefits can be crucial for your medical care and financial well-being after a serious workplace accident, injury, or illness. Workers’ comp benefits can pay for your medical care and replace lost wages. Unfortunately, your employer’s work comp insurance carrier has a financial incentive to pay as little as possible on claims, which may leave you and your family in a dangerous financial situation. The more you can strengthen your claim the harder it is for the insurance company to deny or devalue your workers’ comp claim and pay you less than you deserve. These tips can help you present a stronger claim for workers’ comp benefits in Colorado.
The Colorado workers’ compensation system provides benefits to workers who suffer workplace injuries and illnesses. It is an administrative and insurance process that can pay for your related medical care and a portion of lost wages sustained by the injury or illness and resulting medical treatment. Unlike most accident and injury claims our experienced personal injury lawyers address, workers’ comp in Colorado is the exclusive remedy for most workplace injuries and illnesses that defines benefits under a statutory scheme. You cannot file a lawsuit and ask a jury to decide the value of your claim.
Report your injury or illness right away
Colorado work comp law requires you to tell your employer about your workplace injury or illness as soon as possible to qualify for benefits. Inform your supervisor or manager of what happened. Fill out a written report within four days. The date of injury and first report of injury forms are important steps to proceed with a workers’ comp claim. After submitting the initial forms to your employer, request to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. Your employer must notify its workers’ compensation insurance carrier within ten days of learning about your injury. If your employer refuses to timely file your workers’ comp claim with their insurance provider, you should talk to an experienced Denver workers’ compensation attorney for help pursuing your claim.
Talk all required steps under Colorado’s workers’ compensation statute
Colorado law requires all employers regardless of size to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Even if you work for a business where you are the only employee other than the business owner, the business must cover you with work comp coverage. To become eligible for coverage for a workplace accident or illness, you must follow statutory procedures to invoke your rights under the coverage and the Colorado workers’ compensation statute.
The basic steps required in Colorado inlcude:
- Promptly report the injury or illness to your employer
- Go to a medical care provider from the list of providers given to you by your employer
- Follow your doctor’s orders and attend medical appointments
- Fill out and submit the required paperwork by the deadline
- Collect and present evidence to support your work comp claim
Skipping steps, unreasonable delays and administrative errors in your claim can give your employer and their insurance company a legal defense to deny your claim. If you fail to properly present and pursue your claim, you may lose some or all of the financial benefits of a workers’ compensation claim. Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney can put an advocate in your corner who knows the process and deadlines to help you present a strong claim.
Complete and submit workers’ comp claim forms correctly
Unlike most personal injury claims, workers’ compensation claims involve a lot of paperwork and specific forms you must complete and submit to receive benefits. In a typical auto accident or premises liability claim, a phone call or letter from you or your attorney can establish an insurance claim. For workers’ compensation the process is driven by administrative and statutory forms and procedures. If you have a workplace illness or injury claim, your employer should provide Form WC15 which is the initial Workers’ Claim for Compensation. This form will initiate your claim with your employer and its insurance provider. After submitting your Form WC15, there will be many other forms and documents to submit through your claim.
Gather evidence to support your workers’ compensation claim
Workers’ compensation claims rely upon forms and documented proof of your workplace injury or illness and the treatment you receive. To receive work comp benefits, you must prove that your injury or illness resulted from a workplace accident, job condition, or resulted from performing your job duties. Evidence of the work-related cause of your medical condition and subsequent losses are important parts of proving your claim and the value of benefits you should receive under the workers’ comp statute. This evidence includes:
- Witness statements
- Photos and videos
- Surveillance footage of an accident
- Records of maintenance or repair to prevent defective equipment in the workplace
- Medical records and bills
- Receipts for out of pocket costs for your treatment
- Testimony and reports from your treating doctors
- Letters from your employer
Unlike most personal injury claims, you do not have to prove fault or negligence by your employer or a co-workers to receive benefits. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system to provide benefits for a workplace illness or injury. You can receive benefits even if your employer did nothing wrong to cause your injury or illness. However, you must prove that your medical condition is the result of a workplace accident or condition to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Protect your rights to benefits when dealing with an insurance company
After opening a claim with your employer and its insurance company, you will primarily work with its work comp insurance carrier to receive benefits. The insurer has a financial incentive to avoid paying benefits to you. The more it pays in benefits due under the Colorado work comp system, the less money it keeps in profits. The work comp insurer may deny or dispute your claim by trying to take advantage of you to build a strong defense to your claim. The insurance company has a fair right to deny or dispute claims unsupported by evidence or outside of the scope of the work comp statute. However, their claims processing and disputes are not always made objectively or with your interests in mind. They are free to gather evidence and develop defenses to your claim under the statute.
Protect yourself by not helping them gather harmful evidence or lead you into giving them a factual basis to hurt your claim. Do not give insurance companies a recorded statement about your injuries or the workplace evidence before you speak to an attorney. Do not let the insurance company decide the settlement value of your case and push you to accept an unfair offer. Also do not agree to sign a blanket medical authorization request that allows the insurance company to collect years of prior medical records looking for any excuse to attack your claim, even for an unrelated medical history.
Hire a knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer for assistance
Consider hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Denver to help you get the benefits you deserve under Colorado law. An attorney can advise you on the procedural steps and how to pursue a claim under the complex Colorado workers’ comp system. Your attorney can also negotiate with the insurance adjuster to receive maximum financial benefits and take your case to trial if necessary. A skilled and experienced attorney can advise you on the fair value of your claim and whether a settlement offer is fair compensation for your injury or illness. With a lawyer by your side, you can prevent the insurance company from taking advantage of you and receive fair compensation for your medical condition and financial losses. Contact our Denver law office today to discuss your work comp claim.