If you’re an employee injured on the job, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which covers medical costs and supplements lost wages resulting from your injury. While seeking benefits for expenses and losses is important, doing so can be complicated and confusing. Certain issues might arise when pursuing compensation, such as your burden of proof, your inability to file a lawsuit, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance exemption, and your ability to receive benefits for mental injuries. Having a skilled and knowledgeable representative assist with your case can relieve some of the stresses you might be facing. You have options for receiving free or low-cost advice, but speaking with a lawyer may be a more effective course of action.
You Do Not Have to Prove Fault in a Workers’ Compensation Case
Unlike other personal injury matters, you do not have to prove that anyone else caused your work-related accident. At issue is not whether you, a co-worker, or negligent employment practices led to harm.
Instead, workers’ compensation cases are concerned with whether:
- Your employer carried insurance,
- You suffered work-related harm, and
- You sustained a compensable injury.
It is essential that you keep a complete record of what happened to support your case. Additionally, you must be sure that you report your injury to your job within 10 days of the incident and file a claim with Colorado’s Division of Workers’ Compensation within 2 years.
You Cannot File a Civil Lawsuit Against Your Employer
Workers' compensation provides you with benefits for accident-related damages. The award allows you to pay for medical care and supplement your income so you can recover and return to work as soon as possible.
The benefits also protect your employer from civil action against them. Because your employer carries and offers workers’ compensation, you cannot pursue a lawsuit against them to recover damages.
Not All Employers Must Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance
In Colorado, any employer with one or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance. Employees are defined as anyone working full-time or part-time and being paid for the work they perform. That said, some exceptions exist.
An employer may not be required to have workers’ compensation if:
- The person performing work is an independent contractor. Independent contractors are individuals who carry out their duties without direction and control and have their own independent business in the field.
- Certain employees reject coverage. For corporations and LLCs, presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, treasurers, chairpersons, or members of the LLC with at least a 10% stake in the company can decline workers’ compensation coverage for themselves.
- They are the owner of a construction company and reject coverage for themselves.
- Its workers meet any of the following criteria:
- They are a domestic worker working less than 40 hours and 5 days per week.
- They are a contracted real estate broker/agent receiving commission only.
- They are motor carrier driver operating a leased vehicle.
- They are a farm worker performing casual maintenance and make less than $2,000 per year.
- They are a ski volunteer.
The list above describes a few of the exceptions. Others may apply.
Some Mental Injuries Are Compensable
You may pursue workers' compensation if you suffered mental harm. The injury must have stemmed from a traumatic incident that’s not a normal occurrence in your job. For example, if you retaliated against at work because of your assistance in a case against your employer.
Mental distress arising from your regular duties, such as getting greater responsibilities because of a promotion, is not covered under workers’ compensation.
You Can Get Low-Cost Help with Your Case
Various resources are available to provide answers and guidance for your case. For instance, you can speak with your employer’s workers’ compensation liaison about the process or may turn to the Division of Workers’ Compensation with questions. And while these can be excellent sources of information, they are limited in the type of advice they can give you.
If you need more personalized guidance and legal counsel, reach out to an attorney for assistance. A workers’ compensation lawyer can learn about your situation, discuss Colorado’s laws, and deliver representation tailored to your specific needs.
At Clawson & Clawson, LLP, our Colorado Springs team pursues fair compensation for employees injured on the job. Schedule a consultation by contacting us at (719) 602-5888.