Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SB 10-187 Impacts Claims on or after July 1, 2010

In Senate Bill 10-187 Colorado is making some significant changes in workers compensation claims. For a complete reading just look at the bill but here are the highlights as I see them (effective only for injuries on or after July 1, 2010):

1. If the claimant has to seek a hearing to continue to obtain maintenance medical care then should the other side give in within 20 days from the hearing the claimant can seek his costs to support his effort to continue maintenance care. I see this as trying to stop the other side from objecting to care and forcing the claimant at some expense to try prove his ongoing entitlement but then backing off.
2. Two matters pertain to calculating average weekly wage. One, stops the effort to not count the claimants cost of converting from employer health coverage when he gets medicaid or indigent medical care. A recent case said do not add or adjust for a claimants cost of health insurance when he gets indigent care for free. My view is that the employer health benefit was worth something and should be a wage benefit that is counted in calculating your wage. Second, any wage calculation is to be based on your accident date or based on a judge using his discretion to figure what is appropriate. To me this just codifies what is the law today anyway.
3. Permanent partial disability benefits are no longer to be reduced if you receive Social Security benefits or an employer financed pension/disability plan. I recall one case where the fellow had a reduction of his benefits to zero because of the statutory offset which is corrected by this bill. However these offsets do apply to other benefits such as permanent total disability.
4. A modified job offer may be refused under some circumstances and not result in job termination and asserting the claimant by refusing was responsible for his own termination so his temporary benefits should stop. Personally I wish they had simply repealed the existing law on this which triggers much litigation. In the old days if you were fired when disabled you were often not cut off your temporary benefits as you were still disabled and other work was not that simple to obtain.
5. The caps or limits of top dollar compensation are to be adjusted each year for any claim for injury on or after Jan. 1. 2012.
6. Lastly it is said that there is no waiver of your right to pursue permanent total disability by seeking a lump sum of all the admitted permanent benefits.
Every point raised in the new law was important to correct problems or other interpretations of the law. I'd encourage all to look at the bill as this just represents my simplified take on it.

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