Workplace accidents are always difficult to deal with. You never want to feel unsafe in a place you spend much of your time in—especially not if it has to do with your livelihood. Plus, you may also be worried about medical expenses and any wages you may lose from missing a few days of work. Fortunately, legal recourse is available. In the state of Colorado, workers may be entitled to file for worker’s compensation benefits if they were injured while carrying out job duties during work hours. Such claims allow you to seek compensation from your employer’s insurance company.
It is important to act in a timely manner. All states have their own statutes of limitations for worker’s compensation claims, and Colorado is no different. For most workplace accidents in Colorado, workers will have two years from the date of their accident to file. However, it is not unheard of for certain situations to have the statute extended to three years.
You may also find yourself dissatisfied with the worker’s compensation settlement you receive. If this happens to you, you still have the option of taking the case to a judge for a hearing. You may even request an appeal of the judge’s decision if you believe you are not being offered enough.
It can feel overwhelming to do all this on your own, especially if you do not have a full and comprehensive understanding of the law. After all, more stress is the last thing you need at this point. If you are dealing with a worker’s compensation issue, you may want to procure a trusted workplace injury attorney for your case.
Many worker’s compensation claims are solved directly with the employer and/or their insurance carrier. However, if you feel that you are not being offered all you are rightfully due, you may request a formal hearing to resolve your dispute. You also have the option of requesting a pre-hearing before this. During this pre-hearing, you will meet with an administrative law judge (and potentially the other party) to argue your case.
You may also choose to ask for a settlement conference instead of a pre-hearing. While an administrative law judge will still be present, neither party will be mandated to attend. On the contrary, attendance is entirely voluntary. If the settlement conference does not resolve the dispute, you will have the option to move onto a formal hearing.
If you choose to move forward with a formal hearing, you may request one within 45 days of the date your Notice of Contest was mailed to you. You will receive a Notice of Contest if your employer and/or their insurance company has chosen to deny your Colorado worker’s compensation claim. It is important to remember that the 45 days starts when your Notice of Contest was mailed to you—rather than when you received it.
Formal hearings are similar to pre-hearings in that both parties must meet with an administrative law judge in order to argue their respective cases. A court reporter will also be present to transcribe the proceedings. Failing to attend this meeting may result in the judge choosing to rule against your favor.
Applications for Hearing may be submitted online, by mail, or by fax. They may also be submitted to your local Office of Administrative Courts. It is required that you mail a copy to your employer’s insurance company as well. You may choose to partake in forms of alternative dispute resolution (such as pre-hearings, mediation, or arbitration) before the official hearing date.
A final order will be issued once the administrative law judge has made a decision on the claim. It is possible that you will still be dissatisfied with the results of your formal hearing. Fortunately, you will have the option to appeal the judge’s decision. In order to do so, both you and the employer must submit a brief to the administrative law judge. Each brief must detail the legal arguments made in your appeal.
The judge will review both briefs, at which point they will then either make a decision or send the appeal to the Industrial Claims Appeals Panel. If the latter happens to you, you can expect the Panel to make a decision within approximately 60 days of receipt. They will then mail their decision to you.
At this point, you will still have the option to appeal. You will have to appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals within 20 days of the Panel’s decision. If you are still unhappy with the Court of Appeals’ decision, you may choose to take the case to the Colorado Supreme Court. However, since it is the highest court in the state, the Supreme Court will use its own discretion in choosing which cases it hears.
Many times, employers will try to get workers to agree to arbitrate their worker’s compensation claims. They may claim that the arbitration process is a simpler, quicker, and cheaper alternative to going to court. While arbitration can certainly work in your favor, it is important to keep in mind that arbitration companies tend to keep long relationships with companies—meaning they have more reason to collaborate and work in the employer’s favor. Furthermore, all decisions made during the arbitration process are final and irreversible. You will not have the option to file an appeal. It is important to keep all this in mind before agreeing to arbitration.
If you or a loved one were recently injured in a workplace accident, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. You should never have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide worker’s compensation attorneys. We have helped countless clients resolve their cases successfully. We can help you, too. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you rightfully deserve.