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Denver Workers' Compensation Law Blog

What is an employer’s role in a workers’ compensation claim?

If you have suffered a workplace injury, your employer will actually be the one to file the claim on your behalf. You are responsible for letting the company know about the injury immediately. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the employer must report the workplace accident and any injuries to the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation and the insurance company.

Your employer must file the report to the insurance company within 10 days of the injury. Additionally, the company must give you a list in writing of medical providers where you can seek treatment. If you go elsewhere for care once you receive that list, there is a strong possibility that the insurance company will not cover the cost of your treatment.

The most deadly jobs in the country

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report noting that more than 3 million people reported a workplace injury or illness in 2013. While the data reflects a decline in numbers, people in Colorado or across the country who suffer such an incident know that even just one accident is one too many.

Bankrate.com recently outlined the most dangerous jobs in the United States based on fatalities. Atop the list are positions in the fishing and logging industries, which can credit equipment malfunctions and weather as occupational hazards.

Fight a workers' compensation claim denial

A rejection does not have to be the final step in filing your workers’ compensation claim. At Sullivan, Sullivan & McGuire, we know that there are many legitimate claims that get denied for a variety of reasons. You can choose to fight your case and secure your benefits.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, a claim for a workplace injury could be denied based on the following:

What can workers do for protection in freezing temperatures?

With winter right around the corner, workers who spend most of their time outdoors will be exposed to harsh Colorado weather. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, everyone who works in a cold environment is at risk of developing cold stress, which can cause on-the-job injury cases such as frostbite and hypothermia.

Risk factors for cold stress, the OSHA notes, include workers who are in poor physical shape or have health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. Additionally, people who are exhausted or dressed improperly may be more susceptible to injuries.

OSHA: Ringling Bros. failed to protect acrobats in accident

An acrobat has some inherent risks when performing. Audience members at a Colorado show may be worried that the people could fall during an act, leading to on-the-job injury cases. Fortunately, most shows will go off without a hitch, though that wasn’t the case earlier this year.

A carabiner gauged to hold 10,000 pounds was supporting eight acrobats weighing roughly 1,500 pounds at a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in May when it failed. The acrobats, who were hanging by their hair, fell 15 to 20 feet to the ground, causing severe spinal cord injuries, open fractures and even a lacerated liver. A ninth person on the ground also suffered injuries when the acrobats fell. While two of the performers have returned from work, a spokesperson for the circus said there are no plans to resume the act.

When should I hire an attorney for a workers’ compensation claim?

Not every workers’ compensation claim requires legal assistance. For many people, a minor injury that does not result in missing an extended period of time can be handled between the employee and the insurer without the need for a lawyer.

Yet with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that nearly 3 million people suffered a nonfatal workplace injury in 2012, there are a large number of cases in which hiring an attorney is beneficial. For example, people who have suffered an injury or illness while on the job are entitled to certain benefits. If you feel you are not receiving the compensation to which you are entitled, no matter how small or big the case is, it is important to contact an attorney.

OSHA investigating death of oil rig worker in Colorado

The oil industry has long been known as a dangerous one for workers. In Colorado, there are many drilling sites and facilities that, without proper preventative measures in place, could see a number of on-the-job-injury cases. As a recent incident points out, the issues with one company in particular are widespread.

In 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Wyoming-based driller Cyclone for five serious violations and two repeat infractions. Those citations were in regard to hazards including electrical issues, fire-related matters and falls. The company settled its $65,600 fine down to $27,400, and some of the citations were dropped. In an unrelated incident, a well fire at a Cyclone rig injured three people in North Dakota.

Determine if your injury qualifies for workers’ compensation

In order for your injury to qualify for workers’ compensation, it must have occurred while you were working, or it must be an occupational disease that developed as a result of your work. At Sullivan, Sullivan & McGuire, we regularly work with Colorado employees who have suffered an injury and need to file for benefits.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, sprains, strains and tears are the most common type of on-the-job injury. The most prevalent injuries stem from the following:

Workers’ compensation cannot offer job protection

People who are injured on the job in Colorado may not be able to work for some time. Unfortunately, there is no workers’ compensation law that requires an employer to hold a job for an injured worker. In some cases, a company may have to hire someone in order to continue operations, and they may have the right to replace someone who is on leave.

However, the Family and Medical Leave Act can offer certain levels of job protection. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that workers’ compensation and FMLA can operate together, with workers’ comp leave counting against and employee’s FMLA leave. If an worker suffers a qualifying injury or illness, the employer must notify the employee that the leave will be considered FMLA, which can provide as much as 12 weeks of unprotected pay.

Will workers’ compensation cover damages for pain and suffering?

Seeking workers’ compensation is not the same as filing a lawsuit; it is filing a claim with an insurance provider. Therefore, the damages often associated with a personal injury lawsuit, such as pain and suffering, are not covered through a workers’ compensation policy.

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, all private and public employers in Colorado must have workers’ compensation coverage as long as there is at least one person who is employed either full-time or part-time. If you suffer a job-related injury that qualifies, that policy will pay for the medical expenses associated with treatment as well as potentially pay for time you miss from work. 

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