When a work injury in Colorado leaves you disabled or permanently impaired, Colorado workers’ compensation law dictates the benefits that you are entitled to receive. Colorado workers’ compensation laws are found in Article 41 of the Colorado code which provides comprehensive information regarding what benefits workers’ comp insurance is responsible for paying for and about how those benefits are to be determined. Among the provisions in this code section are disability ratings, which are used to establish compensation for permanent injury.
Unfortunately, employers and the workers’ compensation insurers who provide your coverage may not act within the letter of the law. They may try to deny you appropriate benefits or pay you less than what is owed. Arming yourself with knowledge about disability ratings and understanding how these ratings affect your benefits is one way to protect against an insurer paying you less than what is owed, but the single best way to get what you deserve is to get help from a knowledgeable Boulder workers’ compensation lawyer. The Dominick Law Firm is the workers compensation firm for you if you live in Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette, Erie, Broomfield, Greeley, Ft. Collins, Superior, Denver and the entire Colorado front range. Contact us today at (303) 447-2644 or using our online form for a free consultation to learn how we can help.
Boulder Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Disability Ratings
The Colorado workers’ compensation system is set up to require an employer/ workers’ comp insurer to pay for a number of different benefits for an injured worker. These benefits include full payment of medical bills as well as partial lost wages and disability benefits. When a worker suffers a permanent injury, the workers’ compensation system also provides for additional compensation based on the type of permanent impairment.
Different injuries and ailments will have differing impacts on your ability to work in the future and on your future quality of life, so not everyone who suffers a permanent injury receives the same compensation. Instead, disability ratings or medical impairment ratings are assigned to each worker. These ratings assess the extent of a worker’s injury and specify what the worker is entitled to based on that injury.
Colorado Code sections 8-42-101 through 8-42-125 addresses the different types of benefits available for injured workers. Under these code sections, when a worker has improved as much as he is going to, he is considered to have reached maximum medical improvement or MMI. At this time, an employee who is not 100 percent well will receive payment for the permanent injury suffered. The amount of compensation depends on the type of injury and disability ratings are used to essentially grade the type of injury in order to determine what the worker is entitled to.
For certain injuries, there is a pre-defined amount of compensation due. The worker, therefore, receives this amount of compensation for the particular injury he suffered. This is sometimes referred to as an extremity rating or scheduled disability. For instance, someone who lost an arm will receive an extra payment equal to 208 weeks of benefits. Someone who experienced total blindness in one eye will receive 104 weeks of benefits. A full list of many different common injuries, along with the benefits provided for each, is found in 8-42-107.
When an injury is not listed in 8-42-107, then there must be some way to determine how severely disabled the worker is and what type of compensation he is entitled to. Disability ratings are used to make this determination. According to Colorado law:
“The authorized treating physician shall determine a medical impairment rating as a percentage of the whole person based on the revised third edition of the “American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment”
Essentially, this means the doctor will assess how severely your injury affects your life and give you a rating based on that. This is sometimes referred to as “whole person” rating because the disability rating looks at how your injury impacts you as a person. This rating is then multiplied by a specific formula including an “age factor” and wage rate in order to calculate your benefits.
Sometimes, a doctor does not assign you a disability rating fairly or your insurer does not pay as required based on the impairment you have suffered. When this occurs, The Dominick Law Firm can help. Our Boulder worker’s compensation firm has assisted clients throughout Boulder, Thornton, Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette, Erie, Broomfield, Lyons, Mead, Loveland, Wheatridge, Greeley, Ft. Collins, Superior, Denver and the entire Colorado front range. If you live in this area and need assistance with your disability rating, contact us today at (303) 447-2644 or using our online form for a free consultation to learn how we can help.