Marijuana Use Can Impact Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Marijuana Use Can Impact Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Denver Workers Compensation

When it comes to marijuana use on-the-job, the best advice is “don’t do it!” Contrary to what you may believe, whether for medical or recreational uses, your right to toke is not protected by law in the work environment. Colorado has legalized both the medical and recreational consumption of marijuana, but our state laws still butt up against federal laws. And this makes for lots of confusion across the board.

Employers on Marijuana Use

Legal marijuana, whether for medical reasons or recreational use, is no mandate for use at work. Employers are well within their legal rights to prohibit consumption at work and to require drug testing to weed out users from their workforce.

Federal law prohibits the possession and consumption of marijuana for any reason. This supports the rights of employers in banning marijuana consumption in their employees. Now that the new Trump administration is in place, federal versus state law on marijuana may become even murkier. Currently, there is no clear-cut answer on whether the federal government will be cracking down on states that allow legal marijuana use.

Statewide Marijuana Use Laws

As of the November 2016 election, more than half of all the states in the union, plus D.C., now have medical and/or recreational marijuana use legislation on their books.

1. California passed legal recreational marijuana use last November.
2. Massachusetts joined the ranks of recreational marijuana use states this past election.
3. Maine will soon be allowing limited recreational marijuana use and on-site consumption in social clubs.
4. Though late to the party, Nevada is now a legal recreational marijuana state.
5. Washington, D.C. voted for nonmedical marijuana use in 2014.
6. Oregon came aboard on recreational use of marijuana in the summer of 2015.
7. Alaska passed recreational marijuana law in 2015.
8. Colorado passed legislation to allow recreational marijuana use in 2012. Recent ballot initiatives support public consumption programs in Denver.
9. Washington joined Colorado in groundbreaking recreational marijuana use in 2012.
10. Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware have all legalized medical marijuana.

Bottom Line: Colorado Statute on Marijuana and Workers’ Compensation

Regardless of what the future holds for legal marijuana consumption, for now, Colorado Statute, Article 42 of Title 8 limits your financial benefits under the workers’ compensation system if you test positive for a controlled substance. You can lose 50 percent of your income replacement benefits if marijuana use is detected. While you will still receive full medical treatment benefits, your finances will likely suffer greatly from this impact.

Note that the issue with federal vs. state laws on marijuana impact this area of the law as well. §8-42-112.5. C.R.S. excludes medically prescribed drugs from the identified controlled substances, but that’s the problem. Doctors in Colorado cannot prescribe marijuana. They can only advise their patients on its use.

If you have questions about marijuana and the workplace and workers’ compensation benefits, ask a lawyer. Your pot-smoking buddy probably has a lot of opinions and knows quite a bit about the legalities of smoking weed in Colorado. But workers’ compensation is a complicated system wherein state and federal laws often overlap. A Colorado workers’ compensation lawyer is your best source of information on this thorny subject. We’re always here to answer your questions- don’t wait- get a free consultation on your workers’ compensation case now.

 

How Trump May Affect Workers’ Compensation In Colorado

How Trump May Affect Workers’ Compensation In Colorado

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Workers Compensation Blog

The new Trump administration has ushered in some changes that many Americans weren’t quite prepared for, and much of the impact is not yet fully known. After all, he’s only been in office for a little over four months, and many changes are yet to come. With respect to workers’ compensation (work comp) benefits, the potential effect has not been fully realized. However, it appears that the greatest potential impact will come from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and budget cuts.

Healthcare Reform

In Colorado and many other states, the ACA, more popularly called Obamacare, has generated a favorable trend in work comp claims. Claim rates and costs have been dropping, and this movement is very likely due to increased worker access to healthcare. In its 2016 report, the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research identified a strong correlation between the decreased work comp claims and costs and the uptick in health insurance coverage.

Joe Paduda of Health Strategy Associates delves even deeper into the link between Obamacare and work comp claims. He alleges that workers who are hurt on the job have less reason to pursue care through their employer’s work comp insurance if they have their own health insurance.

Further, other health issues that may impact their work injury can be covered by the worker’s insurance, rather than work comp. For example, an employee with high blood pressure would need additional treatment for his hypertension before he could undergo a necessary work-related surgical procedure. However, when the worker has health insurance, his coverage would bear the additional cost, rather than work comp.

The proposed repeal and replacement efforts of Trump and the Republican-led House has thrown millions into uncertainty with respect to healthcare coverage. The most recent version of the new TrumpCare coverage, the AHCA, has the potential to take away health insurance from 14 million Americans by next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. And the number of insured is expected to continue increasing over the next 9 years.

These dire projections could spell big trouble for work comp. Uninsured workers would likely once again turn to work comp for as much medical coverage as possible. These changes would also disproportionally affect older employees, workers in higher risk jobs and many who currently receive coverage through Medicaid. These issues will equate to increased claims and higher costs.

Budget Cuts and Safety Issues

Trump has also proposed budget cuts and safety reform rollbacks that will have adverse effects on the work comp system. While the Obama administration was moving towards establishing minimum workers’ compensation benefit standards on the state level, the Trump administration has expressed no interest in pursuing these reforms.

Repeal of an Obama-era OSHA safety regulation could have a detrimental impact on injured workers, as well. The “Volks” rule requires dangerous industry employers to keep health and safety incident records for five-and-a-half years. But Congress changed that to just six months, and Trump signed off. This minimum record-keeping requirement may prevent identification of frequent and repeated safety issues with many companies, and make it much more difficult for their employees to obtain work comp benefits when injured.

If a disabled worker is receiving both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and work comp benefits, the total may not exceed 80 percent of the average earnings that the worker was receiving before he became disabled. It they do, the SSDI benefits are reduced to offset the overage. In 15 states, this works in the reverse. Instead, it is the work comp benefits that are offset. On May 23, Trump released information on his most recent budget plan with proposed cuts. The Workers’ Compensation Reverse Offset faces elimination in 15 states, of which Colorado is one. With this change, work comp will need to make up the shortfall that the government has been covering via SSDI, hence, raising costs.

Overall, it appears that the Trump administration will be bad news for work comp in Colorado, and throughout the nation. And that’s only addressing what we know so far. If you have questions about these pending changes, or other workers’ compensation issues, please contact us for answers.

 

 

Sources

Kalin: Obamacare has had an impact on workers’ compensation claims in Colorado

AHCA, CBO, and Workers’ Comp

Four Ways the New Administration Will Influence Workers’ Comp

http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/15517-trump-signs-resolution-to-strike-down-volks-recordkeeping-rule

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/05/23/here-list-agencies-and-programs-trump-budget-would-defund-entirely/DMRzbdY4lwB0XEGA13Y6PP/story.html

How Does House Bill 1119 Stack Up For Workers’ Compensation In Colorado?

How Does House Bill 1119 Stack Up For Workers’ Compensation In Colorado?

Denver Workers Compensation Greeley Workers Compensation Lawyer Workers Compensation Blog

The Colorado General Assembly has proposed new legislation that would address the issue of worker injuries when their employers have no workers’ compensation insurance. If passed, the proposed law packaged in House Bill 1119 will create the Colorado Uninsured Employer Act.

Colorado’s HB 1119 Overview

This legislation is a show of bipartisanship with support from Democrat Senator Cheri Jahn and Democrat Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Republican Senator Jack Tate and Republican Representative Lang Sias. The Act would create a fund from which eligible injured workers can draw benefits. Employer penalties and fines imposed by the Division of Workers’ Compensation for no insurance coverage will help fund the account. Other financial sources may include grants, donations, and public and private gifts.

The bill also directs the establishment of a governing board to cover a range of duties for the uninsured employer fund. Some of these responsibilities include the setting of criteria for rates, claims adjustments, rules adoption and benefit payments. The Board must establish a plan of operation for fund administration duties and money collection procedures for the fund.

The Plight of the Injured Worker and No Workers’ Compensation Coverage

As a worker, when you are considering employment, you may look at several different factors. While stable work hours, healthcare benefits, paid leave, and retirement plans are frequently considered, whether your potential employer has workers’ compensation coverage rarely comes up.

Because it’s the law, most workers assume their employer has the necessary coverage. They only discover a lapse if they experience a work injury that leads to a Colorado workers’ comp claim. A seriously injured employee who is unable to receive benefits under workers’ comp due to their employer’s negligent insurance oversight is left in a precarious position.

Workers’ comp covers medical treatment for your injury or illness. It also pays a percentage of your wage loss if you are unable to work due to your injury. With no workers’ comp coverage, these and other benefits are no longer available.

Seriously injured workers find themselves struggling to receive desperately needed medical treatment and facing overwhelming unpaid bills due to their lost wages. In the event of a resulting disability, the injured worker is unable to receive the temporary or long-term disability benefits that would otherwise be available to him under the workers’ comp program.

Related: Passage of Amendment 69 Could be Bad News for Colorado Workers’ Compensation

One option in this situation is to sue your employer in civil court for the losses associated with your injury. A big problem with this method of reimbursement is the length of time it typically takes to recover damages in civil court. The process is lengthy, and your medical and financial needs are immediate. The biggest problem is that most employers don’t have the assets to pay the benefits due injured workers. Bankruptcy is declared – or the business stops functioning – and the injured worker is left with an order he or she cannot collect.

The proposed Colorado Uninsured Employer Act is a far more effective solution to the uninsured employer problem. Many other states already have these funds set up for these types of injured workers. Some have temporary disability insurance programs instead.

Uninsured Employers’ Workers’ Compensation Fund Examples

Several states, such as California, New Jersey, and New York, have some form of compensation funding for injured workers whose employers have no coverage. California has two funds, the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF) and the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF).

New Jersey also operates two funds, the Uninsured Employer’s Fund and the Second Injury Fund. In New York, their Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF) assigns direct liability to the employer for compensation payments and medical costs.

HB 1119 was introduced on January 20, 2017 and is currently under consideration. Meanwhile, if you have suffered a work injury and subsequently learned that your employer has no workers’ compensation insurance, contact a seasoned Colorado Workers’ Compensation lawyer like Kaplan Morrell to explore your options.

Need help now? We’re here for you. Contact our Denver Workers’ Compensation Attorneys here, and if you’re out in the “burbs” you can reach our Greeley Workers’ Compensation Attorneys here.  We’re here to help- and we will fight to get you the benefits you are entitled to!

 

 

Social Security Recipients Second Amendment Rights preserved Having a Representative Payee No Longer Prevents You From Owning a Firearm

Social Security Recipients Second Amendment Rights preserved Having a Representative Payee No Longer Prevents You From Owning a Firearm

colorado gun laws Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation gun laws Social Security Blog Workers Compensation Blog

In February 2017, the House of Representatives voted to “overturn an Obama administration rule” that required the Social Security Administration to “forward the names of all Social Security Disability Insurance . . . benefit recipients who use a representative payee . . . to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System . . ..

Reaction sadly was over-the-top and exaggerated as some gun safety advocates characterized the vote as the House permitting “severely mentally ill” people from getting guns and will make Americans less safe.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED

The Obama Administration required the Social Security Administration to send the records of Social Security Disability (SSDI) recipients who need a representative payee to the FBI for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  This meant these particular SSDI or SSI recipients were deprived of their right to purchase a firearm.

What’s a Representative Payee?

Individuals are required to have a representative payee for mental impairments when a beneficiary is “legally incompetent or mentally incapable of managing benefit payments.”  An injured and disabled worker who has difficulties remembering deadlines, properly doing math, or any other significant inability to spend their SSDI benefit properly may be required to have a representative payee even if his or her disability has nothing to do with a mental impairment.

Having a Representative Payee does not mean that your inability to mange finances is because a disabled worker is violent, or poses a risk to themselves or to others.

Because of the myriad of impairments that could require a representative payee, even the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) spoke out against the rule, saying “A disability should not constitute grounds for the automatic per se denial of any right or privilege, including gun ownership.”  Republican House Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte opposed the rule because “it paints all those who suffer from mental disorders with the same broad brush.”

Congress has now revoked that rule.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Because of this vote, if you are awarded Social Security Disability benefits, SSDI or SSI, and have the need for a Representative Payee – the Social Security Administration will no longer automatically report you to the NICS.

Have Questions?

Navigating the Social Security Disability process is not always easy.  Circumstances are always changing, and we are happy to answer questions and help navigate the process.  Email – Tre Eyden, EDPNA, or call 970-356-9898.

Top Ten Most Costly Work Injuries Of 2016

Top Ten Most Costly Work Injuries Of 2016

Denver Workers Compensation Workers Compensation Blog

The Liberty Mutual Research Institute revealed 2016’s top ten causes of the most costly work injuries.

Here they are:

1. Overexertion involving outside sources. $13.79 Billion (Examples include lifting, pushing, pulling objects.)

2. Falls on the same level. $10.62 Billion (Slip and falls on slippery surfaces)

3. Falls to a lower level.  $5.50 Billion (Scaffold, ladder, stair falls)

4. Struck by Object or Equipment. $4.43 Billion

5. Other Exertions or Bodily Reactions. $6.5 Billion

6. Roadway incidents involving motorized vehicles.  $3.7 Billion

7.  Slip or trip without fall.  $3.8 Billion

8. Caught in/Compressed by Equipment or Objects. $1.95 Billion

9.  Struck against object or equipment.  $1.94 Billion

10. Repetitive Motions involving micro-tasks. $1.81 Billion.

Some work injuries cost more because of the nature of the injury.  Injuries requiring surgery will be more costly, not simply because of the medical care, but also because of the additional lost time during the recovery.  Injuries from lifting, in this study, may be more costly simply because those kinds of injuries are more common and numerous.  The injuries in this study included only those injuries where the employee missed six or more days of work.

When you’ve been injured on the job in Colorado, your primary concern is getting healed and back to your life. For the vast majority of injured workers that happens, but some workers sustain serious injuries that continue to interfere with their lives.  We’re here to help seriously injured works get the medical care and the Colorado Workers’ Comp benefits they deserve.  Don’t wonder, “What are my rights under Colorado Workers Compensation?”  Instead, call us and meet with an experienced Denver Workers’ Compensation attorney for a free consultation. Let us help with filing your Colorado Workers’ Comp claim- we can help get it approved.

 

 

 

Source:  http://imag e.email-libe rtymutual.com/lib/fe541570726d02757312/m/1 /2017+WSI.pdf

Case Update: If The Insurance Carrier Shuts Off My Lost Wage Benefits – Can I Get Penalties?

Case Update: If The Insurance Carrier Shuts Off My Lost Wage Benefits – Can I Get Penalties?

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation

MacDougal v. ICAO, Bridgestone Retail Tire Operations

The Court of Appeals put out an (unpublished) opinion affirming the denial of penalties against an adjuster for failing to reinstate lost wage benefits (TTD). On February 6, 2015, a Physician’s Assistant (PA) – not the actual Authorized Treating Physician – placed the injured worker at maximum medical improvement (MMI) and removed all restrictions – effectively clearing the worker for regular duty. However the section for permanent impairment was left blank..

The Insurance Carrier filed a Final Admission admitting to zero impairment that day. However eleven days later, on advice of counsel, the adjuster filed a General Admission of Liability (GAL). The GAL did not reinstate TTD benefits – relying on the PA’s release to regular duty.

On February 23, 2015 the Authorized Treating Physician (ATP) wrote a letter raising concerns about the PA’s medical note and noted that the injured worker would need permanent restrictions and an impairment rating. Because the ATP did not rescind the PA’s release to regular duty – the carrier did not reinstate TTD Benefits. When the ATP saw the injured worker in April, he placed the injured worker at MMI and impairment. (It’s unclear if the ATP provided permanent restrictions.)

The injured worker sought penalties against the carrier’s refusal to reinstate TTD benefits. The Administrative Law Judge determined that while the Final Admission was invalid because there was ambiguity of what, if any, impairment the injured worker had – the release to regular duty was not vague. Further, the ATP’s letter of concern did not expressly impose restrictions or retract the release to regular duty.

Given that confusion, the Court of Appeals agreed that claimant had failed to show that the adjuster acted unreasonably.

Work injury claims in Colorado are complex and fast paced. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t need an experienced fighter in your corner. With everything there is to worry about when you suffer an on-the-job injury – let us make sure you are getting the benefits the law provides you. Get a free consultation on your workers compensation case here.

Case: MacDougal v. ICAO, Bridgestone Retail Tire Operations, 16CA0705 (Colo. App. 2016)

NPR: Working ‘The Chain,’ Slaughterhouse Workers Face Lifelong Injuries

NPR: Working ‘The Chain,’ Slaughterhouse Workers Face Lifelong Injuries

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Greeley Workers Compensation Lawyer Workers Compensation Blog

Our very own Britton Morrell weighs in with NPR on slaughterhouse work injuries:

“Teresa stuffed 7- to 10-pound hams in bags, at times up to 50 hams a minute. Starting with a wage of $11.50 an hour, she worked 12-hour shifts, sometimes seven days a week. She was awarded employee of the month four times.

Then, she started experiencing problems in her right shoulder. After reporting the pain to her supervisors, they told her that if she was injured, she should go home.

“The supervisors were very nasty,” she says. “They wanted everything fast, they wanted to produce a lot of quantity. They didn’t care about the people.”

She says she went to the company doctor, who told her the shoulder problem was a bone spur. Finally, her shoulder got so bad, she was diagnosed with injuries from repetitive motions and had to have surgery.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 2014 data that showed repetitive motion injuries among beef and pork processing workers were nearly seven times that of other private industries. And 76 percent of workers in a Maryland plant had abnormal nerve conditions in at least one hand, according to a 2015 report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Britton Morrell, an attorney in Greeley, Colorado., represents workers who file and are denied a workers’ compensation claim for “cumulative trauma.”

Credit to: NPR.org

Credits to: NPR.org

The claims are hard to prove, he says, because a worker must apply a checklist of risk factors. How many repetitive motions are required on the job? Does the worker hold his extremities at an awkward posture? Is there a vibratory mechanism attached to the job?

“It’s a Byzantine checklist,” Morrell says.

Experts have to be hired, which is expensive, he says. Calculations for claims are complicated and involve a worker’s age, body part and pay rates. And these calculations vary between states because of workers’ compensation laws.

“At some point for serious injuries there’s an acknowledgement: We’re never going to get these things back to the way they were before,” Morrell says.”

Read the entire article on NPR’s Website

 

 

Passage of Amendment 69 Could be Bad News for Colorado Workers’ Compensation

Passage of Amendment 69 Could be Bad News for Colorado Workers’ Compensation

Denver Workers Compensation Workers Compensation Blog

Colorado has long been a sort of “proving ground” for new and tentative legislation. Some reasons for this is our status as a swing state and the ease of getting initiatives on our voting ballots in the first place. National groups frequently test proposals in our state, and often the proposed legislation is quite extraordinary. Take legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, for instance. This election year will be no different, and there will be several controversial initiatives on the ballot for voters to decide upon, such as “right to die” and raising the minimum wage to $12. One such ballot initiatives that is of particular interest for Colorado’s workers’ compensation system is universal health care.

Amendment 69 – ColoradoCare Ballot Initiative

This proposed amendment is an attempt to introduce a single payer system, also called universal health care, to Colorado. The proposed program, named ColoradoCare, would replace the Affordable Care Act. Estimates place the yearly price tag for ColoradoCare at around $25 billion dollars. A business and worker tax, along with an increased state tax rate, is meant to pay for the program. This tax option does away with deductibles and medical insurance premiums. However, this tax increase would practically double the current state budget, and saddles Coloradans with the highest income tax rate in the nation.

Accountability is questionable. This program is to be run by a board of 21 members who will be elected by plan members. Furthermore, there are no real specifics about what the new plan will cover, just what programs it will replace. The board will retain sole authority on coverage decisions. Hospital and doctor reimbursement levels are uncertain, calling into question continued quality care under the new system.

Potential Impact on our Workers’ Compensation (WC) Program

ColoradoCare will collect funding and administer the Colorado Workers’ Compensation program, as well as all other state and federal programs, with the exception of Medicare. This has the very real potential of destabilizing a well-functioning system. Our Workers’ Compensation program in Colorado is widely viewed as one of the best in the nation, as it efficiently balances affordable premiums for employers and the provision of fair benefits for injured employees. Denver Workers’ Compensation attorneys are a big part of this system.

– Overhaul of how the Colorado Workers’ Compensation program works

Currently, the system both replaces lost wages and provides medical care for injured workers. The proposed single-payer system will remove the healthcare portion of this system from the program and move it under ColoradoCare. It’s not known how the new set-up will work with only wage replacement under WC, but confusion and disarray are far too likely. There is also the question of cost. Employers currently pay for Workers’ Compensation insurance to cover all of the benefits for injured employees. They will now pay a higher tax rate for ColoradoCare and still be on the hook for the indemnity portion of Workers’ Compensation. It’s a quagmire.

– Unsettles a working system

Workers’ Compensation in Colorado does more than pay out benefits. It promotes worker-safety programs and encourages employers to prevent workplace injuries. Providers and established Workers’ Compensation health professionals are experienced in managing worker injuries. They collaborate with employers and workers to help them get to maximum medical improvement and get back to their jobs safely, whenever possible.

– Eliminates subrogation

Workers Compensation is a no-fault system. But sometimes, there is fault, due to a non-employer third-party. In these cases, Workers’ Compensation insurers can pursue monetary recovery from the negligent party through subrogation. With the passage of Amendment 69, first rights to subrogation cedes to ColoradoCares. This loss of funds impacts the insurers and injured workers ability to recover for injuries.

– More Unknowns

At this time, it is not even known whether ColoradoCare will cover the incidental expenses that Workers’ Compensation in Colorado addresses, such as transportation to medical appointments. And there is no guarantee that injured workers will continue to be able to see qualified professionals in occupational medicine and other specialties that are required to give injured employees the best possible specialized care in a timely manner. Overall, there are simply too many variables and unknowns to enthusiastically support Amendment 69 for implementation of ColoradoCare in our state this November. For individuals who are injured at work, the best thing they can do is seek a qualified attorney. Our top rated Denver workers’ compensation attorneys can help injured workers file their claim, get the medical care they need, and help them seek lost wages to help cover living expenses and medical bills.

Sources:

Amendment 69

https://www.ciab.com/uploadedFiles/Advocacy/Grassroots/Prop_69_2016/No_onAmendment69_1pgr.pdf

Key Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Personal Injury Awards

Key Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Personal Injury Awards

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Greeley Workers Compensation Lawyer

People are often confused about workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado. Many believe that recipients are paid in a manner similar to personal injury lawsuits. Others may understand that there is a statutory standard, but are unaware of the parameters. Let’s try to clear up some of this confusion with an overview on what workers’ compensation pays employees who have been injured in work-related accidents or have fallen ill due to their job duties.

Many of you are aware that personal injury awards can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars based on the type of injury sustained and the fault of the negligent party. These awards and settlements are often boosted by the careless or negligent behavior of the company that led to the injury. In many cases, the amount of money received is increased due to punitive damages. Workers’ compensation benefits operate quite differently.

Negligence or fault is not a factor in workers’ compensation cases. Instead, these benefits are set up as insurance for instances when your work duties lead to injury or illness. The benefits are meant to replace the work income that you would have normally earned had your injury not prohibited you from working and gaining employment income. Rather than assigning blame and seeking to compensate you for what you have lost and suffered, workers comp pays you a percentage of the wages you have lost due to your injury. This can range from a temporary timeframe to a permanent arrangement based on the unique circumstances of your injury and outcome.

You Won’t Believe These Unusual Workers’ Compensation Cases

In some cases, you may be eligible to receive education or vocational benefits to help you learn a new skill or trade when you are no longer able to perform the job you were doing prior to your injury. And if your injuries are so severe that you can neither return to your previous work nor perform the duties of some other job, then you may be eligible for long term disability payments. These benefits seek to compensate you for the income you will lose out on for the duration of your remaining working days. Experts apply extensive and complicated formulas to determine what this lifelong work income would be. Benefits are then paid out as either a lump sum or periodic payments over time.

These benefits also cover medical bills related to your injury, to include treatment, surgeries, therapy, rehabilitation and some associated costs, such as mileage to and from your medical appointments.

Workers’ Compensation Fee Schedule and Benefit Payments

The Colorado Workers’ Compensation fee schedule is reviewed annually. For the July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 time period, the maximum amount you can receive for lost wages is $939.82 per week. This may apply to workers who’s weekly earnings were at least $1,409.73. If you are determined to be disabled and your impairment is 25 percent or less, the maximum lump sum you may receive is $86,697.04. If your impairment is rated at higher than 25 percent, the maximum amount is $173,391.90. This applies to workers who were injured after January 1, 2014. These are the maximums. To determine the specific amount you are eligible to receive, your employer’s workers’ comp carrier determines your average weekly wage and multiples it by 66 and 2/3 percent. There is no minimum weekly benefit.

These formulas are often complicated and confusing. You may also be eligible for scheduled or non-scheduled impairment and/or body disfigurement. Our experienced Denver workers’ compensation lawyers can help you understand these benefits and work to ensure you receive the maximum amount that you are entitled to under law.

Worker’s Compensation Fraud 101

Worker’s Compensation Fraud 101

Denver Workers Compensation Workers Compensation Blog

 

Workers’ compensation entitles employees to certain financial assistance when they experience job-related injuries or health problems. However, some people take advantage of this system by falsifying the compensation claims for personal gain or for the benefit of another party.

While a Denver workers’ compensation lawyer can help you with your claim, it is still important for you to be able to recognize and identify possible false information in compensation claims to avoid being a victim of fraud.

Defining Workers’ Compensation Fraud

When an individual makes false statements or representation regarding important details in a worker’s compensation claim, he or she can be charged with workers’ compensation fraud. In Colorado, this is considered as a serious criminal offense that is punishable by up to 3 years of imprisonment, $100,000 in fines, community service and a permanent criminal record.

It’s important to note that compensation fraud does not only take place when the claimants fake and exaggerate their condition. Sometimes, the employer or a third party can misreport information in a claim. Whether the wrong information is a result of an honest mistake or is done intentionally, it could lead to workers or claimants being falsely accused of fraud, risking their chance of acquiring the benefits.

Common Types of Workers’ Compensation Fraud

The whole process of claiming workers’ compensation involves more than just the employer and the employee. It also includes health service providers, claim adjusters, and workers compensation lawyers. Compensation fraud can be committed by any of these parties.

Workers’ compensation fraud by applicant or claimant

This can include a worker exaggerating symptoms or an injury, making multiple claims possibly under multiple identities, claiming injuries that did not happen or were obtained outside of work, and failing to report secondary jobs and additional income.

Workers’ compensation fraud by the employer

It involves intentionally falsifying information to avoid compensating the employee for the injury, lying to prevent a worker from filing the claim, and misclassifying employees and under-reporting payroll for lower premiums.

Workers’ compensation fraud by the adjuster

This includes insurance adjusters tampering with paperwork to account for the denial of a claim or accepting payment in exchange for referrals to certain healthcare providers.

Workers’ compensation fraud by the provider

This can entail health care providers overbilling the services provided, billing for treatment or services that were never provided, or performing tests or treatment that are unnecessary to earn more money.

Workers’ compensation fraud by the attorney or lawyer

This can involve lawyers soliciting or helping an employee in filing false compensation claims. If you have an attorney that is filing false claims on your behalf, you need to find a new attorney to represent you and your case!

Related: Top 10 Workers Compensation Fraud Cases of 2014

Workers’ compensation fraud does not only cost companies huge amount of money; it could also result to legitimate claims being delayed or not being paid out properly. If you’ve been injured, you need to have a Denver workers compensation lawyer on your side. Our experienced lawyers, who have a comprehensive and thorough understanding of the workers’ compensation law, as well as the different issues and obstacles related to it, can help you file your claim properly. To learn more about workers compensation fraud and other workers compensation issues, consult with a Denver workers compensation attorney today for FREE.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys here or call us at 866-356-9898 for your free consultation.