Important: We updated this article in October 2022 to ensure the information below is both accurate and current. Unless you’re a federal employee, state law outlines who gets Colorado workers’ compensation benefits and how the process works. If you’ve been injured or gotten sick on the job in the Centennial State, you should focus on getting better, not sweating over the claims process.
We’ve gathered the information you need to get the benefits you deserve.
Colorado Workers’ Compensation Eligibility & Benefits
According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, all public and private employers must carry workers’ comp insurance to protect employees, including part-time hourly and salaried workers. However, employees in these groups are not eligible for Colorado workers’ compensation:
- Domestic workers employed less than 40 hours per week
- Residential support workers for host-home services
- Uber, Lyft, and other contracted rideshare-service drivers
- Volunteer ski area operators
- Realtors/real estate brokers who work only on commission
- Railroad employees who are covered by federal workers’ comp
- Independent contractors
Colorado workers’ compensation covers all medical expenses and some lost wages. To earn lost wages payments, you must miss at least three work shifts. If you miss less than two weeks, payments start on your fourth day off. After more than two weeks, you’re paid for the first three days you missed.
Colorado Workers’ Compensation Filing Process
If an on-the-job injury or illness requires emergency or urgent care, seek treatment immediately. Then notify your employer of your injury or illness within four business days. Caution: You lose one day of lost-wage benefits for each day you wait after this deadline.
If you don’t require emergency or urgent care, notify your employer of the injury or illness and choose a physician from the Designated Provider List your employer gives you. This healthcare professional becomes your “treating physician” and is the only healthcare provider you can see for this injury or illness. Caution: You must notify your employer within four working days or risk your benefits. If you go to an unauthorized doctor, then you must pay those bills yourself.
The claims process usually works like this, but each case is different, so your process may differ:
- You file a Worker’s Claim for Compensation (WC-15) within two years of your injury or illness.
- Your employer files an Employer’s First Report of Injury form with their insurer within 10 days after your injury.
- The insurer has 20 days to approve or deny your claim and will usually notify you by mail. Caution: Workers with preexisting conditions are most likely to be denied.
For more information on the Colorado workers’ compensation program, visit the state’s injured workers’ information page.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
If your claim is denied, you have 45 days after denial to file an Application for an Expedited Hearing to appeal. From there, it can take up to four months to schedule a hearing for most disputed claims! Click here for tips to decide if you need a workers’ comp attorney.
Working with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer can make the process both easier and faster. These attorneys work on contingency, which means they don’t charge you anything unless your claim is approved. If you do win, then you only pay a reasonable, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your Colorado workers’ compensation benefits evaluation now:
Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter: @word_factory LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.