Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance every employer is mandated to carry. Workers’ comp is used when an employee is injured on the job. Whether it be the fault of the injured worker his or herself or the fault of a third-party, every injured workers is entitled to workers’ comp benefits.The workers’ compensation system does have its negative aspects and positive aspects. The biggest positive aspect of the system is that it is a “no fault” system. A no-fault system means that any injured worker who injures his or herself is entitled to all the benefits entitled to them under the state law.
The biggest negative of workers’ comp is people are not able to sue their employers. Meaning they are not able to attain larger financial settlements due to the restrictions that accompany a “no fault” system. In a personal injury situation someone who is injured as a result of a third-party will typically recover a much larger financial settlement than a workers’ comp settlement.
Broadly speaking, Colorado’s workers’ comp laws do greatly benefit injured workers in the long run. Most injuries do occur as the result of employee negligence and repetitive stress injuries. While a repetitive stress injury is not the fault of the injured worker, it is also not considered to be a third-party injury. A typical third-party injury for example would be a car accident. In this case, the injured party would be not responsible at all for their own injuries and 100% of the financial burden would fall onto the party who caused the accident and injury.
Workers’ compensation laws mandate that all injured workers receive free medical care to restore their health to its original state or as close as possible. Workers’ comp benefits also allow for injured workers to be compensated up to 2/3 of their normal salary if they are placed on total temporary disability benefits or TTD. Total temporary disability benefits are awarded to an injured worker when they are unable to perform their job duties. If they become this disabled due to their work injury then their job becomes getting well enough to return to work, full duty.
The system also allows for financial compensation for any permanent disabilities that may arise from injury. The American Medical Association guidelines are used to determine an injured workers’ permanent disability percentage. Once that percentage is established it will then be correlated to a dollar amount and the injured worker will receive that specific financial award.
The most important thing is reporting the injury immediately. Many people do not report a work injury immediately for number of reasons. Whether they be afraid to lose their job or maybe the pain is just not bad enough to mention. For instance, many back injuries often start off feeling like a small “tweak” and then a few days later they can be nearly immobile due to a herniated disc becoming inflamed after 72 hours.
Many injured workers are just “tough people” and think they can power through their injury. The bad news is, often times, before they know it, 60 days later their shoulder, knee or whatever body part was injured has degenerated to the point of disability. Fortunately, there is no real hard statute on reporting an injury. However as stated, reporting your injury immediately, no matter how severe or small it seems at the time is great safety net to protecting your health if the injury is to flare-up and become more serious down the road.
If the work injury claim is delayed, typical practices for the insurance company to investigate the validity of the claim in most states is 30 to 90 days. Once the investigation is concluded the insurance company will make a determination if they agree the injury was due to industrial causes. If they do not agree the injury was a result of industrial causes they will deny the injury claim and deny the injured worker’s medical and financial benefits.
However, even a denied case can be turned into an accepted case if handled properly by the lawyer and the treating physicians.