Friday, April 27, 2007

Disfigurement New Law!

HB 1297 was just signed into law by Gov. Ritter. For many, many years an injured worker with a scar or disfigurement was limited to no more than $2000 for it. You would appear before the Judge or provide a photograph and from that the Judge would sign an order for a sum up to $2000 but no more. I've seen low amounts around $200 and other amounts that were higher awarded by a Judge. But if you had horrendous scars you were still limited to no more than $2000. Despite the passage of many years the top amount awarded stayed at $2000. Colorado legislators failed to consider increasing it and the disfigurement benefit was ignored. Today this was changed by HB 1297. The basic disfigurement benefit was increased to as much as $4000. But also for horrendous scars that deserve more the top dollar could go to $8000. Lastly they added a yearly review so it could even increase each year. Anyway here is the link to the bill:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Refunds from Pinnacol to businesses

It appears from an article in the Denver Post that Pinnacol (the state's largest workers comp insurer) will be refunding or redistributing money back to employers. Quite a bit of money actually. One possibility is that there are less claims because everyone is safer. Another possibility is more is being saved by not paying out enough benefits. I personally suspect the latter because the law and rules make it easier on insurers and harder on claimants. Read the article here:

Monday, April 23, 2007

All 50 States link to agencies

Here is a link that seems to have info on each state's agencies involved with workers comp. I provide it to make a point that each state has its own way to handle work injuries. While the laws and procedures can seem the same they are in fact different from one state to another. Workers compensation is a creature of statute (created by each state legislature) and the rules, procedures and caselaw vary from one state to another.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

State Representative Carroll

Rep. Carroll maintains a blog and this link shows her concern for injured workers. She is in the forefront of efforts to provide fairness in the law. She is pushing HB 1176 mentioned previously in this blog. Bravo !

Her current position is state senator and visit her blog by clicking here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Social Security Disability Blog

Here is a link to a blog by an attorney in the Atlanta area who handles disability cases in his area. What makes it so good is that he answers specific questions on SSD and SSI claims in a very easygoing manner. Many topics are covered in his blog and it makes an excellent read. Most that he writes about concerning Social Security applies here in Colorado too. I notice that in his region getting a SS hearing can take over 2 years. There are delays here too and this is unfortunate. We tell people to expect a delay of one year or more. In any event since some injured workers may need to consider filing for SS benefits go ahead and explore this blog for some easy to understand information.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Colorado House Bill 1176 (UPDATE: signed into law)

The Colorado legislature seems to be moving to pass a law which involves an injured workers right to have a choice and change doctors. The current law says your employer has the first right to pick your treating doctor when you report your injury and need medical treatment. This usually results in being sent to a facility hand picked by your employer/insurer. Trying to change doctors is not easy and my experience has been that such hand picked doctors often will treat and release claimants too early. The proposed law gives claimants a bit more protection. As of Jan.1, 2008 it requires they be given two choices and also lets them switch more easily within the first 90 days. It really is not as good as having a choice of any doctor you wish but it is more then being stuck with one doctor. Still it has been opposed and it is alleged the current system works just fine and few workers request any change of physician. Most of us in this field know perfectly well that changing doctors is seldom easy and if it requires going to a hearing can take many weeks with an uncertain outcome. If we truly care about recovery then this law gives a bit more help to the worker if he feels his employer picked doctor is not helping him. Hopefully this bill will pass and be signed into law by the governor. Here is the current version of the proposed bill:

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Few Interesting Stats

It appears there were over 10000 hearing applications in 2004 in Colorado. The actual hearings held were around 1500. There were however some 7000 settlements. So the general rule with injuries at work is that most result in settlements. But getting to a settlement or a hearing is often a complicated matter. For example there also were some 8000 motions filed in cases in 2004. Disputes are common in work injury cases and often the injured worker is truly mystified by it all. It seems as if they go from productive worker to problem employee overnight even if they've worked for the same employer for years. Medical, legal and financial worries can all be part of the stress on an injured worker. Employers and insurers suddenly can treat you like an adversary but even if they are trying to be decent about it the stress of needing to recover and move on with your life can be high. Even a minor injury can have long term consequences on your life so you should keep informed and if possible obtain good legal advice with your case. You can call us at 719-596-8900. If you cannot obtain an attorney or need further questions answered contact the Division customer service people at 1-888-390-7936 (toll free).