The Importance of Securing a Comprehensive Workers’ Compensation Settlement

The Importance of Securing a Comprehensive Workers’ Compensation Settlement

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If you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits due to a work injury, the payments and medical care you receive are typically finite. Once your treating physician okays your ability to return to work, your benefits end. This is the situation in temporary disability cases. But what if you suffer a permanent disability?

Maximum Medical Improvement

At some stage during your care, you will reach a point where your recovery is at an endpoint. This means that you are not likely to continue improving, even if you are not back to your pre-injury state. If your injury was severe, it’s possible that you may not be physically able to return to the workforce. When this is the case, you may continue receiving weekly benefits through worker’s compensation or request a lump sum, subject to a 4% per annum reduction. Some permanently injured workers may want to consider a settlement that covers future financial and medical needs.

Normally, in a settlement arrangement, the employer and insurer pay a certain sum of money to the injured worker to settle all past, present and future financial obligations. In return for these settlement funds, the employee gives up any and all future demands and claims against them. Therefore, a workers’ compensation settlement must be very carefully negotiated to ensure that that all your current and future needs will continue to be met.

When you sign a settlement agreement, you give up the following rights under the workers’ compensation benefits system:

Temporary disability benefits
Permanent disability benefits
Permanent total disability benefits
Future medical treatment
Disfigurement compensation
Penalty fees against the insurance company and/or your employer
The right to reopen your case
The right to make any claims for additional benefits for unknown injuries
Your attorney should be able to negotiate these expenses, claims, and potentialities into your settlement agreement, because you only get one shot at this. Barring very minute exceptions, once you sign your settlement agreement, you are stuck with the consequences.

Reopening Your Settlement

In Colorado, when you enter into a settlement agreement, you give up the right to reopen your workers’ compensation case due to a mistake or if your condition worsens. It may be possible to reopen the settlement agreement, but only if you can prove fraud or that a mutual mistake of material fact occurred.

Mutual Mistake of Material Fact

This is a high bar to meet. The mistake must be one made by both sides of the agreement, and it must be an error that has essential bearing on your case. Higher unanticipated bills or additional medical treatment requirements do not constitute a mutual mistake of material fact. Discovering a new medical problem may not qualify either, even if you discover that this previously unknown medical issue was the result of your settled work injury. Fortunately for Victor England, this wasn’t the case.

England v. Amerigas Propane

This case is an example of the stringent requirement for reopening a workers’ compensation settlement agreement. The Colorado Supreme Court decided the case on September 30, 2017. Truck driver England was injured in 2012, and he entered into a settlement agreement governed by the Colorado Worker’s Compensation Act. In 2013, England’s doctor discovered a previously undiagnosed stress fracture to his scapula. The settlement form used included a paragraph prohibiting a reopening of the settlement unless there was fraud or mutual mistake of material fact. England petitioned the ALJ to reopen his settlement and won, but the employer appealed, and the Court of Appeals ruled against the employee. England appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, which finally agreed that this issue demonstrated a mutual mistake of material fact. His case was reversed and remanded.

Turn to an experienced and knowledgeable Colorado workers’ compensation lawyer to help you determine the best approach when you have been seriously injured at work. If a settlement agreement is your best option, your attorney can skillfully negotiate terms that will ensure your continued care and financial stability in the wake of your injury. Get a free review of your workers’ compensation case with our expert Denver area workers’ compensation attorneys now.

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

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

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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!

 

 

Two most common overlooked benefits injured workers in Colorado should get – but don’t.

Two most common overlooked benefits injured workers in Colorado should get – but don’t.

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There are some Denver workers’ compensation benefits that are well known such as medical care and payment of lost wages.  However, there are also some benefits that are not as well known and should not be overlooked.

Some injured workers who are owed disfigurement benefits.  Disfigurement benefits are paid for things like scars from surgery or suffering from a limp.  The workers’ compensation insurance company is not required to automatically pay such a benefit.

Another benefit is mileage reimbursement.  The workers’ compensation insurance company needs to reimburse you for all of your trips to doctors, physical therapy visits and even to pick up your medications at the pharmacy.  Even if someone else provides transportation for you, you can still get reimbursed for that mileage.  If you are unable to get to your medical appointments, the insurance company has to provide you some form of transportation to get you there.  We would welcome the opportunity to explore these little known benefits with you.

As always, how this or any other issue we discuss in this blog would apply to your case depends on many more factors.  We urge you to call us to see if you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  Workers Compensation is difficult, confusing, and very complex.  Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve.   Contact us here or call us at (866) 356-9898 for your FREE CONSULTATION.

What a Difference An “AND” Makes In Colorado Work Injuries

What a Difference An “AND” Makes In Colorado Work Injuries

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THE Industrial Claims Appeals Office (ICAO) HIGHLIGHTS A MAJOR LIMITATION ON MAINTENANCE MEDICAL CARE

Intersection between a law with a later statute creates a major distinction for injured workers’ medical care rights.

Lola Chism injured her left shoulder in July 2009 in an admitted work injury.  Following what was described as “considerable” physical therapy, and two surgical procedures her treating physician placed her at Maximum Medical Improvement(MMI) in January 2011.  The treating physician recommended, and the insurance carrier admitted for, future maintenance medical benefits.

Injured Colorado workers are entitled to medical benefits following an on-the-job injury “to cure and relieve effects of the injury.”  CRS §8-42-101(1)(a).  In 1988 the Colorado Supreme Court interpreted that law as requiring Colorado Workers Compensation Insurance carriers to pay for all medical care “to relieve the worker from the effects of the industrial injury” based upon the rationale that it “is an obvious fact of industrial life, however, that an injured worker can reach maximum medical improvement from an injury and yet require periodic medical care to prevent further deterioration in his or her physical condition.”  Grover v. Industrial Commission, 759 P.2d 705, 710 (Colo. 1988).

However the Colorado Legislature added a formal, statuotry definition of MMI as the “point when any physical impairment is stable and “no further treatment is reasonably expected to improve the condition.” That definition excluded from ‘further treatment’ any “future medical maintenance.”  CRS § 8-40-201 (11.5).

Ms. Chism continued to have ongoing physical therapy for her shoulder after MMI as maintenance care.  In December of 2015 the treating physician referred her to a surgeon who recommended a reverse total arthroplasty   The employer challenged the proposed treatment, however an ALJ ruled that the surgery should be approved, finding it reasonable and necessary to “cure and relieve” the effects of the injury. The employer appealed.

The ICAO determined the obligation to “cure” the effects of the injury ends at MMI because of the later 1991 statutory definition of MMI that declares “no further treatment is reasonably expected to improve” the injured worker’s condition.  Thus, ICAO reasons, only treatment that will relieve but not cure the work injury can qualify as maintenance care.

The ICAO remanded the case back to the Administrative Law Judge for further consideration if the proposed treatment would just “relieve” the injury, noting that there was no “bright line” test to distinguish between those treatments.  Because six years had passed after the injury, Ms. Chism cannot reopen her work injury claim, she is limited to maintenance care.  If this surgery is curative – it has to be denied under the ICAO’s parsing of the statute.

 

CITE:  Chism v. Walmart, WC No. 4-809-103-03, (January 9, 2017).

Appeals Office Shifts the Burden to Injured Workers in Responsible for Termination Claims

Appeals Office Shifts the Burden to Injured Workers in Responsible for Termination Claims

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Injured Workers must now be ready to provide evidence explaining that work absences weren’t their fault.

Injured workers who lose their job while treating for a work injury are entitled to lost wage benefits, called Temporary Total Disability.  However the Colorado Legislature changed the law allowing employers to avoid paying lost wages to injured workers when they are “responsible” for their termination.

Until now, the burden to prove this allegation has rested squarely upon the employer.  The employer must not only prove that the injured worker did – or failed to do – something that led to his or her termination – but that that it is was volitional on the part of the injured worker.  For example if a worker is fired for being late to work three times in one week, the employee could show that the absences were caused by circumstances outside his or her control.

Nicholas Coleman worked as a housekeeper and suffered a low back injury in late 2014.  However in February 2015 he was incarcerated for violating his parole and as a result stopped coming to work and was terminated.  After his release in August 2015 he sought lost wage benefits.  The employer denied claiming that Mr. Coleman was responsible for his termination.

At hearing, although the employer did introduce evidence that Mr. Coleman stopped coming to work, and that Mr. Coleman had been incarcerated for violating his parole – there apparently was no evidence why or how Mr. Coleman violated his parole.  Reasoning that the employer had failed to show proof as to whether the parole violation was volitional, the Administrative Law Judge was unwilling to assume that it was and awarded benefits.

The Industrial Claims Appeals Office (ICAO) remanded the case back for a further hearing and testimony.  The ICAO imposed the burden not on the employer, but the injured worker.  “Typically, when an employer introduces evidence that a claimant has failed to show up for work when scheduled, this amounts to a prima facie case satisfying the employer’s burden of demonstrating the claimant was at fault for the job separation. See Lucero v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 812 P.2d 1191 (Colo. App. 1991)(employer’s initial burden to show claimant was discharged for disqualifying reasons). The claimant must then introduce exculpatory evidence or evidence showing that his failure to show up for work when scheduled was non-volitional. See Gonzales v. Industrial Commission, supra (disqualification for failure to meet defined standards, unless the claimant is not at fault in the circumstances).”

This burden-shifting is a major departure from traditional litigation when a a party must prove each and every statutory requirement.  Now, employers may simply be able show that a worker was fired in accordance to policy without showing that the worker acted volitionally.  Then if the employee doesn’t provide an explanation, the employer will win.  This case highlights another reason why injured workers need experienced and dedicated attorneys.  Workers Compensation Law Changes weekly and you or your loved one needs an attorney who keeps up with these changes.

 

Source Citation:  Coleman v. Starmark Holdings, WC No. 4-969-560-02, (January 9, 2017)

 

Federal Workers Question Whether OWC Choice of Referee Physicians is Truly Impartial

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A group of former federal workers have called into question the impartiality of the Office of Workers Compensation (OWC) when choosing referee doctors. Seven former government employees, led by Blake Brown, filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in an attempt to uncover bias in the actions of the OWC. The suit seeks the past 10 years of statistics for Colorado orthopedic doctors who were selected as referees in contested workers’ compensation claims.

Referee Doctors

Under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), injured federal workers must provide proof of their injury via a doctor’s opinion. Many workers opt for treatment by their own physician or a doctor of their choosing. The worker must also submit to examination by a doctor designated by the OWC. When these two physicians cannot agree on the injury or cause, the OWC must resolve the dispute with impartiality. This is meant to be accomplished with a “randomly” chosen referee physician.

The OWC uses software that searches for doctors within 25 miles of the zip code of the injured employee. If the doctors on the generated list are unable or unwilling to provide the needed service, the software then expands the search radius to include physicians in an ever increasing geographical area until a willing and available physician is located. In theory, this method should tap a revolving panel of doctors with no bias in selection. Brown and his fellow plaintiffs believe that this system has been compromised.

Suspected Bias

Brown, et al. suspect that the OWC has actually been referring the same small pool of referee doctors over and over on purpose. They allege that by using this “select pool” of physicians, these doctors become financially reliant upon the assignments. This then influences their decisions in favor of the OWC. The federal workers cite a specific orthopedic doctor that has been used in a referee capacity for the OWC repeatedly. They argue that this physician has weighed in on numerous workers’ compensation cases where the zip codes of the injured employees have been far outside of the initial 25-mile radius, despite the presence of other orthopedic doctors within a closer range.

FOIA Request

The federal workers requested OWC records for the referee selection process under FOIA, to investigate their suspicions. The focus was predominantly on orthopedice doctors and the previous 10-year period. They also specifically asked for screenshots of the scheduling software menus. They received redacted records in response, obliterating physician names and addresses, and no screenshots.

The missing information led to the filing of a suit to received partially un-redacted records. Brown, et al. don’t challenge redacting of employee information. They simply challenge removal of the physician info. The district court denied their requests, and they appealed.

Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling

The 10th Circuit Court has now weighed in on the case. They disagreed with the lower court and reversed that court’s decision on August 29, 2016. Because some of the redacted data at issue are the physicians’ business addresses, the expectation of personal privacy is impacted. They remanded the case for additional proceedings.

With this turn of events, it’s likely that the plaintiffs in this case may finally receive the information they need to truly investigate their claims, and determine if there is a showing of bias in the OWC’s selection of orthopedic doctors. If this is the case, the situation will likely become far more complicated.

If your rights have been violated in a Colorado Workers’ Compensation claim, don’t hesitate to contact Kaplan Morrell for skilled legal guidance. We have been championing the rights of injured Colorado workers for nearly two decades. Call (866) 356-9898 to schedule a free consultation.

Employees Get a Bad Rap for Workers’ Compensation Fraud

Employees Get a Bad Rap for Workers’ Compensation Fraud

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Workers’ Compensation fraud. Quick! What immediately comes to mind? Is it some guy playing golf, shooting baskets or mowing the lawn while a PI looks on covertly with a video camera, or some other similar scenario?  It’s no surprise if that’s the case. Injured employees get a pretty bad rap when it comes to public perception of workers’ comp claims.

“Gotcha” videos and concerted efforts by workers’ compensation insurance companies through the 1990’s and early 2000’s firmly planted a seed in the public’s mind about injured workers. In a bid for reform to lower the costs in workers’ compensation state systems, legislators and insurance companies furthered the myth of the injured worker who’s faking his illness or injury in order to get benefits without working.

For those people who have never suffered a devastating work injury or know someone personally who has, it’s often easy for them to believe that the whole situation can be easily faked. Of course, to workers and family members who have gone through this experience, and are still dealing with the aftermath, the idea of perpetuating a long-term fraud seems ridiculous, if not impossible.  Moreover, what the facts actually bear out is that a large amount of workers’ compensation fraud is perpetrated by employers or insurers, and that this type of fraud is far more costly.

Workers’ Compensation Fraud Facts

Overall, only 1 to 2 percent of workers’ compensation claims are found to be fraudulent. The Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act defines fraud as willfully making false statements or misrepresentations that are material to a claim in order to collect payments, compensation, awards or benefits. It breaks down this fraud by the following types:

  • Claimant/Applicant – Includes false claims, fake and exaggerated injuries, unreported income, and claiming injuries that happened outside of work.
  • Provider/Biller – Over-billing or inflated bills and non-rendered services.
  • Lawyer – Helping to file a false claim or sending claims to clinics who conspire in the fraud.
  • Insurance Adjuster – Changing a claim to substantiate a denial and accepting bribes and kickbacks for patient referrals.
  • Premium – Submitting false information to get a lower workers’ comp rate.
  • Employer – Misrepresenting facts to avoid claim acceptance and payment, lying to prevent or discourage their workers from pursuing claims, and misclassifying workers and under-reporting their injured workers’ wages.

By the Numbers

Note that Colorado identifies one form of fraud that involves wrongdoing by the worker versus five types that are perpetrated by some party other than the employee. Claimant fraud is typically the least costly, since it’s perpetrated by individuals. Each case usually averages around $2,000 or $3,000 obtained fraudulently. A common type of claimant fraud is when the employee double-dips by receiving workers’ comp benefits while earning work income on the side that he doesn’t report.

By contrast, Employer and Insurer workers’ comp fraud runs much higher in cost. In Texas, 2012 saw a loss of approximately $523,451 to claimant fraud versus $2.7 million due to premium fraud. In North Carolina, the state’s 2014-2015 Industrial Commission’s annual report revealed that the form of workers’ comp fraud most heavily investigated was employer fraud, accounting for 90.64 percent of the suspected fraud cases. Alleged employee fraud cases only represented 8.75 percent.

Employer fraud involves misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees, and identifying workers in high-risk jobs as holding low-risk jobs. In June 2015, the Economic Policy Institute revealed that between 10 and 20 percent of employers misclassify at least one employee as an independent contractor. Clearly, the picture of the employee as the “face of workers’ compensation fraud” is wrong and costly.

If you have suffered a work injury in Colorado, it’s important that you substantiate your claim. A Denver workers’ compensation lawyer can help you with this. He understands what is required to prove your claim and to overcome the negative perception that many employees are faking their injury or illness. Contact a Denver or Greeley workers’ comp lawyer for legal guidance and counsel for your Colorado Workers’ Compensation claim.

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

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

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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

 

 

Life Care Planning: An essential component in your Workers’ Compensation Settlement

Life Care Planning: An essential component in your Workers’ Compensation Settlement

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Greeley Workers Compensation Lawyer

Workers’ Compensation legal representation involves a great many moving parts, and if you are injured on the job in Colorado, a Greeley or Denver workers’ compensation lawyer is invaluable. Your attorney can ensure that important issues are thoroughly addressed during settlement negotiations. In the event of long-term disability from a work injury, it’s essential that your settlement includes a comprehensive life care plan. This vital component is necessary to cover and address issues that you will face in the future. Many injured workers are extremely concerned with the here and now. How will you pay bills, support your family, receive medical care and replace lost income? This is completely understandable. Your life is in upheaval and you are dealing with urgent issues that need to be addressed quickly. But once the dust settles, what then? Your long-term care is an important factor. How you will pay for rehabilitation, continue to provide for yourself and your family, and take advantage of medical advancements is key. These are the things that a life care plan deals with.

Key Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Personal Injury Awards

If at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), you are determined to be permanently and totally disabled due to a work-related injury, you are no longer able to earn a living through gainful employment. Your workers’ compensation Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits provide income to replace this wage loss. Experts assess your life expectancy, how long you would have been able to work and the amount of income you would have earned over this time span. This amount should be reflected in your settlement. But, that’s not the end of the story. Your injury has likely left you with a number of medical, physical, emotional and rehabilitative needs. A comprehensive settlement should allow for these needs as well. This is where a well-designed life care plan comes into play.

Establishing and Proving Your Long-Term Needs

The input and testimony of qualified life care planning experts is essential to your workers’ compensation settlement. They are skilled in reviewing the evidence to determine your future personal and medical needs, and any remaining earning capacity. These forensic consultants delve into your medical reports and your prognosis. They examine how similar injuries have affected other workers, the associated costs they have accrued, the previous settlement amounts that have been awarded in these cases and a number of other contributing factors to determine what you need to provide for you over the long-term. Important factors for consideration include:

Coverage for medical advancements that can help your recovery

  • Financial compensation for your income loss
  • Funds availability for technological and medical apparatuses that help you live a fuller life
  • Home care and assistance to replace the duties you are no longer able to perform
  • Travel expenses related to your medical and psychological care
  • Various other costs related to your care and disability

Retaining Qualified Experts for Life Care Planning

Naturally, you cannot rely upon your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance carrier to provide extensive research for your life care plan. They don’t work for you. Their goal is to take care of your claim as expediently as possible at the minimum of expense. Your Denver or Greeley workers’ compensation attorney is the professional that you can count on to ensure that all of your long-term care needs are accounted for in your settlement. An accomplished legal professional in this field understands what is at stake and has the necessary resources to establish the necessity of each and every requirement in a comprehensive life care plan. He retains a skilled life care planner and collaborates with this professional to negotiate a settlement that covers all of your long-term needs.

Key Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Personal Injury Awards

Key Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Personal Injury Awards

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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.