Injured Arm or Leg in a Colorado Work Injury

Mar 10, 2021 | Employment Concerns

If you injured your arm or leg in a Colorado Work Injury…read this!

Injured Arm or Leg in a Colorado Work Injury – If you have been injured on the job in Colorado and hurt your shoulder, hip, knee, or elbow, your doctor may do something called contralateral normalization. What is that? And how will it affect your workers’ compensation benefits? Let’s discuss two ways to make sure your compensation is not unfairly reduced.

What is Contralateral Normalization?

Contralateral normalization might sound intimidating and complicated. Contralateral normalization happens when the doctor starts measuring the other body part that wasn’t injured. For this example, let’s say you’ve injured your right arm. The doctor should take measurements of the range of motion and calculate what was lost on your right arm. But then what’s going to happen is the doctor may say, “Well, let’s see what the range of motion is on the left arm.” This is a red flag that they are setting you up for a trap.

If your left arm has been injured before at all, you need to say, “Wait for a second, doctor, I have a prior left arm injury,” because the doctor is not allowed to normalize your range of motion on the unaffected arm. What happens is that your right arm’s range of motion will be compared to your left arm’s limited range of motion, not your normal healthy range of motion before either of your arms was injured. If the doctor does normalize your range of motion on your unaffected left arm they will say “Well, look at this loss of range of motion on the unaffected left arm. I’m going to subtract that range of motion from the right arm and I’m only going to give an impairment rating from the difference between your right arm and unaffected left arm.” And that removes compensation benefits from you.

How does impairment rating apportionment work?

This leads us to ask what is about impairment ratings. if you had a prior work-related back injury in 2005, and you got a 12% impairment rating, you would be entitled to that amount. Then let’s fast-forward to the present day and let’s say you have another back injury. Now you have a 15% impairment rating. But the law allows the insurance company and the treating doctors to apportion or to remove that pre-existing impairment to the new impairment. So that means for the second work back injury you wouldn’t get 15 points of impairment. You would only be entitled to three and that’s called apportionment.

Protect your worker’s compensation benefits

If you are asked to show your range of motion on the other non-injured side, you need to refuse or put forth full effort to put your non-injured side as high up as you can because anything that you don’t do will be subtracted from your impairment ratings and overall reduce your workers’ compensation benefits.

We’re here to represent you

If you’ve been injured in Colorado, contact our team of experienced attorneys at Kaplan Morrell. We have been representing injured workers since 1995 and we would love to help you. The initial consultation is free, it’s confidential, and we only charge 20% of what we get for you. Call us today at (970) 356-9898 or visit our website at

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