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Colorado Workers' Compensation Laws

Whether your office is in downtown Denver or high up in the Rocky Mountains, most of us spend the majority of our adult lives at work. This leaves ample opportunity for work-related injuries and illnesses.

In Colorado, employers with one or more full- or part-time employees must have workers' compensation insurance, which covers work-related injuries and illnesses regardless of fault. In exchange, the employee gives up the right to file a lawsuit against the employer. If you've suffered a work-related injury or illness in Colorado, you should know your rights and responsibilities for filing a workers' compensation claim.

The following table includes important parts of Colorado's workers' compensation laws, including benefits and key deadlines.

Important Deadlines
  • 4 days to give written notice of work-related injury to employer (to receive maximum benefits) (Sec. 8-43-102);
  • 2 years (3 years with reasonable excuse) to file claim if employer fails to do so (Sec. 8-43-103)
Types of Benefits
  • Health care expenses: all reasonable and necessary medical expenses from authorized providers (Sec. 8-42-101)
  • Temporary disability: to compensate for temporary inability to work at all or at full capacity; paid at to two-thirds of your average weekly wage ; (Sec's 8-42-105, 106, 102, & 107.5)
  • Permanent disability: to compensate if you are unable to fully recover from your injury; payments vary, but if unable to return to work weekly amount equals two-thirds of average weekly wage (Sec's. 8-42-107, 107.5, 111)
  • Death benefits: weekly payments to surviving dependent(s) and up to $7,000 in funeral expenses if employee dies from work-related injury or illness (Sec. 8-42-114 et seq.)
Employer Rights & Obligations

Who and What is Covered by Workers' Compensation?

In Colorado, almost anyone hired to perform services for pay is considered an employee. However, there are exceptions, including casual maintenance or farm work for less than $2,000 per year, independent contractors, and part-time domestic workers. And while injuries are covered regardless of fault, compensation may be barred or reduced if the injury was the result of willfully failing to use a safety device or from the use of drugs or alcohol.

I'm Hurt: Now What?

After an accident, you should seek medical attention for your injuries and notify your employer verbally and in writing within four days of the injury. The employer has the right to designate a medical provider for you and if you go to an unauthorized provider, you may have to cover those bills. Even if four days have passed, send notice anyway since you can still receive many benefits after that deadline.

What Happens After My Employer Knows About My Injury?

Once you've sent notice to your employer, they must file a report with their insurance company within 10 days. If they fail to do so, you may file a claim directly with Colorado's Division of Workers' Compensation anytime within two years of the injury. The insurance company then has 20 days to deny or approve the claim. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a claim, but workers' compensation law does not require them to hold a job open for you while you are injured. However, you may be protected by other state and federal laws.

What if My Claim Is Denied or Challenged?

If your claim is denied or you have a dispute with the insurance company, you have several options, including an Application for Expedited Hearing (which must be filed within 45 days). If you disagree with the extent to which the insurance company has agreed to cover you, you must object within 30 days. You may represent yourself throughout this process, but an attorney can be instrumental in meeting deadlines, preparing documents, and representing you against the insurance company's attorneys.

Injured on the Job in Colorado? Get Legal Help Today

Unfortunately, workers' compensation hearings and procedures can be very complicated and time-consuming. And, if you don't follow the rules, your benefits could be reduced or barred altogether. Learn more about these requirements and your potential benefits by talking to a local personal injury attorney who has experience with Colorado's workers' compensation laws.

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