Know Your Rights
Colorado workers’ compensation claims arise under a complicated and deadline-intensive administrative law system. To navigate this process successfully, an injured worker needs the services of a well-trained and experienced workers’ compensation attorney. WCEA attorneys are dedicated to helping injured workers. Through their experience and training, as well as their access to the resources provided by the WCEA, WCEA attorneys are in the best position possible to maximize the benefits available to an injured worker under the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act).
Workers’ compensation benefits are calculated primarily based on the injured worker's average weekly wage (AWW) (gross pay before taxes) at the time of the injury. If you miss work because of an injury, you only receive 2/3rds of your AWW, subject to a state maximum. Contacting an experienced attorney to make sure that your AWW is calculated correctly goes a long way toward maximizing the benefits available in your claim.
Workers’ compensation benefits are the only remedy you have your employer or a co-employee for a work injury. Because the employer cannot be sued outside of workers’ compensation, except in limited situations, it is vital that an injured worker obtain all of the benefits and rights available under the Act.
Use of an experienced attorney results in an average increase of benefits of 50% or more. The Act sets the typical attorney fee at a 20% contingent fee. The attorney will recover no fee, unless he or she obtains benefits on your behalf.
Under Colorado law, the insurance carrier or the employer has the right in the first instance to select your treating doctors. Insurance carriers and/or employers often failed to do this properly. Your right to seek a change of doctor is time sensitive. The sooner you contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, the more likely you'll retain the right to seek a doctor of your own choosing. WCEA attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you select the right doctor to treat your work injury.
The Act and the Rules are deadline intensive. If an important jurisdictional deadline is missed, you may be stuck with inadequate or limited benefits (or your claim will close subject only to limited rights to reopen). Early and competent representation is critical to making sure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to under the Act.
Workers’ compensation benefits do not cover pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. In many ways, the benefits available under the Act are unfair and limited. Maximizing those limited benefits is crucial. Vocational retraining has not been mandated under the Act since 1987. Retain the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help you navigate the impact that your work injury has had on your ability to do your job now and into the future.
Workers’ compensation insurance companies and employers have access to law firms that specialize in defending workers’ compensation claims. Claims are adjusted by claims adjusters working on behalf of the insurance company or the employer. In most instances, adjusters will provide the least amount of benefits required by the Act. Although they may not be doing something prohibited by the Act, an experienced attorney will know how to obtain more benefits. A number of adjusters, on the other hand, will affirmatively deny, delay or limit benefits and often do so improperly in violation of the Act and the Rules. That creates the potential for penalties. WCEA attorneys know how to spot, remedy and seek redress in penalty situations.
Most attorneys who represent injured workers specialize in workers’ compensation law. Attorneys who dabble in the area do so at their own peril. Navigating the system requires in-depth knowledge of the Act, the Rules, and the players in the system (including workers’ compensation carriers, self-insured employers, representatives and employees of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, and the staff and administrative law judges at the Office of Administrative Courts). Abbreviations abound (MMI, TTD, TPD, PPD, PTD, and on and on). Important deadlines are everywhere. Please consider the services of a competent and experienced WCEA attorney early on to help you navigate through the abbreviations, deadlines, and players.
The receipt of a Final Admission of Liability (FA) is a must call to a WCEA attorney, even if your claim up to that point has gone well. Important filings must be completed within 30 days of that FA or your claim a close as to all issues, subject only to limited rights to reopen. Don't hesitate to contact a WCEA attorney when you get that FA.