8 Things to Do if You Get Injured at Work
Every job or work environment has risk factors that can injure employees - you don't need to be a coal miner or construction worker to get hurt on the job. Office workers damage back muscles lifting heavy file boxes, supermarket cashiers develop repetitive stress injuries from operating point of sale terminals and delivery persons are involved in car accidents.
The Colorado Workers' Compensation system has been designed to provide benefits to workers injured on the job. Those benefits include:
- Medical Care;
- Temporary Disability Benefits – both total and partial;
- Permanent Impairment Benefits – both total and partial; and
- Disfigurement and Death Benefits.
(There is no compensation for pain and suffering in the workers' comp system.)
So, if you get hurt on the job, what do you need to do?
Get Emergency Medical Care
If your injury arises suddenly and must be treated immediately seek emergency care by calling 911 or going to an emergency room. Tell the medical staff that your injury is work related.
If your injury doesn't require immediate treatment, you aren't entitled to a doctor through the workers comp system until:
- You report your injury to your employer;
- Your employer reports your injury to its insurance company; and
- The insurance company authorizes medical care for your injury.
Report Your Injury or Illness
Notify your supervisor or someone else in management as soon as possible after your injury occurs. If your illness or injury is the kind that develops gradually (like carpal tunnel syndrome or a loss of hearing), tell your employer about it as soon as you think your job is causing the problem.
To avoid forfeiting benefits you'll need to notify your employer in writing within 4 working days after the "date of injury." This written notice is required even if you've already notified your employer verbally. Keep a copy of your written notice.
If you report the injury after the 4-day deadline, you don't completely lose the right to workers comp benefits but you may lose one day of payments for every day your written notice is late.
Confirm That Your Employer Reported the Injury to the Insurance Company
Your employer has 10 days from the date of injury to report your injury to its insurance company using Form WC1. This report begins the claims process. Confirm with your supervisor that the Form WC1 was filed and find out the filing date. The insurance company then has 20 days to either admit by sending an Admission of Liability or deny your claim by sending a Notice of Contest.
If Your Employer Doesn't Notify the Insurance Company, Fill Out and File a WC15 Form
If your employer doesn't report your injury to its insurance company (or refuses to do so), you can file a Form WC15 to report your injury yourself. Two paper copies of the Form need to be mailed to the Colorado Division of Workers' Compensation. The Division will then send your WC15 to your employer's insurance company. Injured employees have 2 years from the date of injury to file a workers' comp claim if their employer refuses to.
Get Medical Care for Your Injury
The workers' comp system requires you to be treated by doctors chosen by your employer and paid by its insurance company. Most employers will have a list of authorized medical providers for you to choose from but if your employer doesn't have a provider list you can see a doctor you choose.
If you want to choose a different doctor on the approved provider list, you can file a Form WC3. If you want to use your own doctor, you can file a Form WC197 to have your doctor approved by the insurance company. The insurance company is not required to approve your doctor but does need to respond to your request within 20 days.
Keep All of Your Documents
Save every document related your workers comp claim, injury and treatment:
- Your initial written notice of injury, the WC1 or WC15 Form and any related correspondence with your employer and the insurance company;
- Medical reports, doctor bills and health insurance claims;
- Paystubs from before, during and after your medical treatment; and
- Out of pocket expenses related to your injury like prescription drug co-pays and travel expenses for related to doctor visits.
Try to Resolve Issues With Medical Care, Work Duties, Schedules and Assignments
If you disagree with your doctors, the insurance company or your employer about the course of your medical treatment, the schedule for returning you to work, or the duties you are expected to perform while you are recovering, you should promptly raise these issues and try to resolve them.
Hire a Colorado Springs Workers' Compensation Attorney as Soon as Possible
If your workers' comp claim is denied or your employer or its insurance company isn't responding to your claim, you should consult an experienced workers' compensation lawyer to find out what rights you have under Colorado law.
Even if your workers comp claim is accepted, disputes often arise over medical treatment, the amount and time period for the payment of benefits, and changes to your work duties while you are recovering. A workers' comp lawyer can also help you with filing documents and meeting deadlines. Contact Levine Law today.