In the state of Colorado, there are laws in place to protect those who suffer an on-the-job injury. Workers are insured by their employers through a program called workers’ compensation and when a work injury happens, the employer (or, more likely, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer) becomes responsible for paying benefits. These benefits should include payment for not just medical costs but also for other losses, including lost wages if the worker’s ability to earn money is temporarily or permanently reduced.
Unfortunately, although workers’ compensation insurers must pay lost wages and other benefits required by law in Article 41 of the Colorado code, insurers and employers often use a number of tactics to try to avoid paying the full amount due to workers. If you have suffered a work injury and you believe you are not being fully paid the lost wages owed to you, contact The Dominick Law Firm today. Our Boulder workers’ compensation attorneys have represented clients throughout Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette, Erie, Broomfield, Greeley, Ft. Collins, Superior, Denver and the entire Colorado front range and we can put our legal experience to work for you. 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 Laws and Lost Wages
Workers’ compensation is the only remedy a worker has against his employer after a work-injury occurred, since a personal injury lawsuit is not permitted against an employer for work injuries. As such, it is very important for workers to understand the full extent of benefits available and for workers to ensure that they are getting all they deserve.
One type of benefits that workers deserve after a work-related injury is lost wages. Lost wages are available to workers who are both temporarily disabled and who are permanently disabled. Further, these benefits are available to people who suffer from a total disability and to people who suffer from a partial disability that limits, but does not prevent, them from working and earning money.
Article 42 of the Colorado Code outlines a worker’s right to lost wages or disability benefits in sections 8-42-101 through 8-42-125. According to this code section:
- Temporarily disabled employees who are totally disabled and can’t work at all can receive lost wages benefits equal to 2/3 of weekly wages.
- Temporarily disabled employees who are partially disabled but who can still work can receive 66 2/3 percent of the difference between what they were making at the time of the injury and what they can make on restricted duty.
Temporarily disability benefits can continue until:
- The worker is released to go back to work at full duty;
- The worker is released to return to work on partial duty and receives a job he can do with his restrictions but that pays the same and provides the same benefits and hours as the job he was doing before his injury.
- The worker is fired for cause.
- The worker reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI) and is not expected to get better. If the worker has reached MMI and can’t go back to work, then the worker can apply for permanent disability benefits but can no longer receive temporary benefits for lost wages.
The lost wages benefits you receive in your workers’ compensation case are extremely important since they allow you to provide for yourself as you try to get better. Unfortunately, sometimes workers’ compensation insurers or employers will try to do everything in their power to limit or restrict your ability to receive benefits. For instance, you may be cleared to go back to work before you are ready or your employer may look for cause to fire you so that benefits will stop.
Even when employers/insurers actually pay benefits for lost wages, they use a number of tactics to try to make your prior wage seem low. For example, they may try to avoid counting commissions or bonuses in calculating wages. Since your benefits are based on what you were earning before the injury (up to a state-defined maximum that changes annually), an artificially low “wage” as determined by the employer/insurer can result in you getting less benefits than you deserve.
If you are being treated unfairly in any way and if your employer or workers’ comp insurer is trying to limit the lost wages that you are being paid, you need to fight for your rights. The workers’ compensation system is intended to protect and provide for workers injured at work and you deserve to receive the full benefits allowed by law.
The Dominick Law Firm can help you to get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Our Boulder workers’ compensation firm has assisted clients with lost wages claims 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 getting benefits for lost wages, contact us today at (303) 447-2644 or using our online form for a free consultation to learn how we can help.