Unless you’re a federal employee, state law dictates how to apply and qualify for Colorado workers’ compensation benefits. Anyone who gets sick or injured on the job in Colorado can follow the workers’ comp application process below. We’ll also explain any exceptions that aren’t covered under Colorado workers’ compensation insurance.
Which Employees Are Covered Under Colorado Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, all public or private employers state-wide must carry workers’ comp insurance. This insurance coverage also includes part-time workers, regardless of whether they’re salaried or hourly employees. However, state law does list some exceptions to this coverage, including:
- Domestic workers employed less than 40 hours/week
- Realtors/real estate brokers who work on commission (i.e., not salaried)
- Uber, Lyft and other contracted rideshare-service drivers
- Residential support workers for host-home services
- Railroad employees covered under federal workers’ comp
- Volunteer ski area operators
- Independent contractors
How to File Your Colorado Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you get hurt or sick while doing your job in Colorado, follow these steps to apply for workers’ comp benefits:
- Notify your employer you’re sick or injured right away. Seek urgent medical care first, if needed. However, state law requires you to notify your employer in writing within four working days. Otherwise, you’ll lose one day of lost wage benefits for each one you wait after this deadline passes.
- Choose one doctor from two employer-authorized providers to treat you. The doctor you choose becomes your authorized treating physician. If you go to an unauthorized doctor, you must pay those bills yourself.
- Your employer notifies the insurer within 10 days after your injury using a Employer’s First Report of Injury form. Filing this form officially starts your claim. You must file it with the Division within two years of your accident to claim any benefits.
- The insurance company must then approve or deny your claim within 20 days. You should get a letter in the mail telling you if you’re approved or denied.
- If approved, you must miss at least three work shifts to qualify for lost wage pay. Colorado workers’ compensation covers all medical expenses. However, your lost wage benefit amount, if any, will vary. If you miss less than two weeks at work, lost wages start on your fourth day off. After more than two weeks, you’re paid for the first three days you missed.
- If your claim’s denied, file an Application for an Expedited Hearing to appeal. We recommend doing this as quickly as possible, since you only have 20-45 days afterwards to appeal.
Every Colorado workers’ compensation case is different, so your own process may vary. For more information on the Colorado workers’ compensation program, read the Division’s Employee’s Guide.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
The Colorado workers’ compensation program makes it fairly difficult to appeal a denied claim. According to the Division, it takes about four months to schedule a hearing for most disputed claims. And who’s most likely to get denied workers’ comp benefits? Those with preexisting conditions!
However, you can talk to an experienced workers’ comp attorney today and get free advice about your case. Workers’ comp lawyers work on contingency, so they won’t take on cases they don’t expect to win. That also means they can’t charge you anything for professional help until after your claim’s approved for benefits. And if one does help you win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below now to start your Colorado workers’ compensation benefits evaluation.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.