Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Yesterday the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in the Coats case. In that case a disabled employee for the Dish Network was terminated under its no tolerance drug policy. The worker was productive but required medically prescribed marijuana. Coats is the law.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Once again there is another Memorial Day. With each year it seems to gain importance from my perspective and that of many others. On this day we honor those who have served no matter what the year or by what measure. We truly
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Once again a volunteer fireman case reached the Court of Appeals. In the Smith case a volunteer fireman was injured on the way to a fire chiefs meeting. His claim was upheld but contested by Teller County and this led to an appeal. The contest was based on a number of
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
A recent court case was issued on March 12, 2015. In Kilpatrick the claimant sought to reopen a closed case based on new evidence. As part of his efforts claimant sought discovery of the insurers financial records of monetary gifts to any
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
For the past several years workers compensation has been fairly stable in Colorado. I guess that is a good thing given that over the past 25 years or so I saw a downward spiral for workers benefits and claims. That is my opinion but I think anyone looking into it would conclude the same. Employers saw their cost of insurance go down which was no The Demolition of Workers's Comp the author reviews this pattern of attack on workers benefits. It is a good read. I realize that business must control its costs in order to stay viable and employ its workers but I also see the injured worker as a cost of doing business which must be adequately protected. If not the cost is passed on to society and that means all of us. My view is that 100 years ago or so workers comp became important when we all realized that injured workers should not be an expense of society but should be an insurable expense for employers. So hopefully in the future direction for workers compensation we should all keep this in mind.
Monday, March 02, 2015
Recently the Division of Workers Compensation posted another newsletter. This is for February 2015. As I have said before these newsletters can contain a lot of interesting February 2015 newsletter is devoted to medical matters. For example it notes to us that effective April 1, 2015 the injured worker is provided a list of 4 physicians to make a choice for his treatment. There are variations if there are less medical providers within 30 miles of the employers location. Still this is an improvement from years ago when the employer just selected the physician to treat you. That led to criticism of employer favoritism. The new selection process at least affords more choices for the injured worker. Anyone injured at work should carefully review the physician list maintained by the employer. Historically physicians selected by employers come from their insurers who have those they favor. I can assure you that there are physicians who are not dedicated to the injured worker and who try to speedily move along treatment, perhaps to the disadvantage of the claimant. And then there are physicians who are heavily claimant oriented. Attorneys practicing in this area know all about these physicians and those less friendly to claimants. Anyway the newsletter discusses this issue and other medical matters. Those wishing to stay on top of the field should take a look at this newsletter.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
If you have a work injury then seek out representation through an attorney. Even where you are being treated fairly it remains my belief that you should obtain an attorney. Historically having an attorney often means obtaining more or better benefits. This area is complex and relying on the adjuster or your employer is simply not in your best interests. In my experience medical care is often better when you have an attorney. Also your compensation benefits are often far higher with an attorney. I've seen cases where benefits appear to be low become much higher with an attorney on your side. In any event there may be cases where you do not have an attorney or cases where it is early on and you need some help or assistance. In such situations perhaps the next best thing is to call the Division's customer service number. While they are not going to represent you they can provide some help and guidance. This can be a very technical field and it's better to contact customer service then go completely on your own. At least that is my opinion although having representation is usually your best bet under just about all circumstances. In any event feel free to contact customer service for helpful information and some assistance. The current phone number for customer service at the Division is 303-318-8700.
Monday, January 26, 2015
In December the division posted another newsletter. Realistically it is not all about claims. That is just the name they gave the newsletter. They publish the newsletter every so often and its purpose is to provide information to claims practitioners. Actually it has some good reading in it for many ofDecember 2014 newsletter has an excellent story about prehearing judge Tom McBride. What I like about it is that it humanizes the judge. We can get all wrapped up about a claim and the issues that we forget that those that decide any issues or assist us with settlement are quite human even if very experienced. The newsletter also touches on other subjects such as the new streamlined electronic settlement approval process and the new reporting requirements of OSHA. you can read about it and other resources in this latest newsletter. While the topics may not be relevant to any ongoing cases they do explore areas of interest to many in the field. Certainly anyone practicing should take a look at these newsletters as they come out but it also gives all of us another form of communication from the division to those involved with workers compensation in Colorado.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Well in Colorado we are approaching the new year. The year 2014 was "okay" for workers compensation in the sense that nothing horrific happened to reduce rights or benefits for claimants. The Division did post a new website appearance and there were some changes which can be seen in the prior postings on this blog and on the Division website. I am sure that 2015 will produce new cases and changes in rules or guidelines. From my perspective 2014 was fairly tame in Colorado workers compensation. Of course those claimants that had adverse decisions were not happy but nothing dramatic happened to greatly alter the state of affairs in this field. I still have concerns in some areas which I have commented on in the past but at least the field has been reasonably stable. Hopefully in 2015 every claimant will have experienced representation and fair treatment by the system. I WISH ALL CLAIMANTS THE VERY BEST IN THE NEW YEAR!
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Just recently decided the Hoff case concerned workers compensation insurance coverage and the assertion by a party of promissory estoppel. In this case the claimant sustained serious work
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
On September 30th, 2014 the Colorado Supreme Court held oral arguments on the Coats case. This case involved the termination of an employee after a random drug test for having the presence of marijuana in their body. It was consumed off work and yet the employer had a no tolerance policy. The lower court dismissed the wrongful termination case even though the employee argued he was disabled and it was medically prescribed marijuana. I reported on this in an earlier post. Todays oral arguments were quite interesting even if the discussion seemed to center on technical points. The Denver Post has an article on it which it posted today. You can read the article which also has a link to the oral arguments. By clicking there you can at least for a while see a video of the arguments. A big part of the case is that while Colorado has a law permitting medical use of marijuana the federal law makes it illegal. Mr Coats was asserting he was doing something lawfully permitted off work premises so the termination was wrong by Colorado law. The employer also argued so the outcome is uncertain. In any event a decision can be expected which I will await. In the meantime the case has been interesting to follow. While not a workers comp case this case has an effect in workers compensation cases. Perhaps an injured worker will be prescribed marijuana or perhaps such a worker will be terminated after his work injury if he is tested for marijuana in his system. Employers may seek to terminate and stop temporary benefits in such a case. I guess we shall see what recourse the employee may have. Given also that recreational use of marijuana is permitted now in Colorado what about these no tolerance policies? The court may address this or may simply choose to avoid the issue on some technicality. Time will tell.
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Every month there is an update on the latest ICAP (Industrial Claim Appeals Panel) cases. These are not court appeal cases but rather are the next step to appeal after a hearing decision a party does not agree with. There are many such appeals monthly and from themhere. There are 12 cases shown along with one court case of interest to the reviewer. These cases remind us of what is going on at recent hearings. Some of these cases may even be appealed further. Many may not be appealed. Many of us in this area enjoy getting these cases and the review which comes with them. For a list of several months of these cases you can click here. If you work in this field or even if you just wish to know what is happening in this area it is useful to have this resource. Attorneys even obtain continuing legal education credit for following this monthly program.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Back in April 2013 the Colorado Court of Appeals issued the Coats case. It is not a workers compensation case but instead is a wrongful termination case. Still it will impact workers compensation. It is now on further appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court with oral arguments set for later this year with a decision to follow most likely in 2015. What makes it interesting and controversial is that it concerns marijuana. A worker washere. Given the legalization of marijuana so its use is permitted, even recreational use, will employers be allowed to terminate you even where you use it after hours with no impact on your employee performance? All I can say is stay tuned for the answer come 2015. By the way LexisNexis asked for my comments on the case so they are included in the article.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
The Division of Workers Compensation issued a new newsletter, Issue 38. This issue is quite unique. It really provides a
Monday, May 12, 2014
On May 8th, 2014 the Colorado Court of Appeals issued a decision involving a firefighter here.