FAQ ON COLORADO’S WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
What kind of injuries are covered by workers’ compensation?
Accidents (like falling off a ladder and breaking your wrist) and occupational diseases (like respiratory damage caused by years of exposure to smoke and chemicals), are seen as industrial injuries in the State of Colorado.
What do I do if I get hurt or suffer an occupational disease on the job?
YOU MUST REPORT IN WRITING ALL WORK RELATED INJURIES WITHIN FOUR DAYS OF THE ACCIDENT OR ONSET OF OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE. This is true even though the employer or co-worker “knew” of your injury.
What benefits am I entitled to if I have work related injury?
Medical benefits: Can include doctor’s visits, physical therapy, medications and medical equipment or appliances. Medical benefits also include mileage to and from medical treatment. NOTE: the employer has the first right to chose your medical provider for a work related injury.
Temporary benefits: If you miss more than three shifts of work because of your work related injury, you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits based on two thirds of your average weekly wage. If you return to work on a reduced number of hours or duties, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. Temporary disability benefits continue until you complete medical treatment (maximum medical improvement or MMI) or your return to work at full or modified duty. Under section 9.5.7 of the Charter you are entitled to receive full pay for one year. Your temporary disability benefits go to the City during this time.
Permanent medical impairment: If you suffer permanent physical or mental disability from your work related injury you may be entitled to permanent medical impairment benefits to be determined after your medical treatment has been completed (MMI). Permanent total disability benefits are also available for someone who can never work again as a result of an industrial injury. As fire fighters you have the FPPA disability system available if you can no longer work as a fire fighter. If the disability is the result of an on-the-job injury or illness, those benefits are tax free.
How is my case closed?
Once you complete your medical treatment, and are evaluated to see if you have any permanent medical impairment, the City should file a Final Admission of Liability. This Final Admission of Liability will close your case within thirty days unless you contest it. You have the right to disagree with the amount or type of benefits in the Final Admission of Liability including disputing your impairment rating by requesting an Independent Medical Examination.
Another way to close a work related injury case is by full and final settlement. A full and final settlement closes out your claim for all benefits including medical benefits, time off work, permanent impairment, and the right to reopen if your injury becomes worse.
If you do not close your workers’ compensation claim on a full and final settlement, you retain two important rights that you should know about. First, you may be entitled to maintenance medical treatment after MMI if your authorized treating doctor recommends it. Second, you retain the right to reopen your workers’ compensation claim if your condition worsens the later of within six years of the date of your injury or two years from when you last received compensation.
Issues surrounding a Final Admission of Liability, full and final settlement, maintenance medical treatment, or the right to reopen, require more detailed legal advise and it is suggested that you consult an attorney on these issues.