Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Maximum Benefit Rates for 2012

Colorado recently posted the 2012 maximum benefit rates for workers compensation. These rates are adjusted yearly. The maximum rates remind us that workers compensation benefits are limited and capped. While for most claimants these highest rates do not apply there are some to whom the rates do apply. If you are a high wage earner be aware that the top dollar for temporary benefits which is normally two thirds of your wage is capped at $848.82 so if you are earning over $1273.23 a week then you do not receive any further temporary benefits except the cap amount. There also are top total dollar amounts for all compensation except permanent total benefits which can go indefinitely (though they have offsets that can reduce the figure). Be aware that if you have been drawing temporary benefits a long time it can affect your permanent benefits. Insurers are well aware of the caps and there have been cases where there were no permanent benefits due because the claimant hit the caps. Again this is uncommon so those with a prolonged severe disability should pay attention to the maximum rates. If you are concerned then review matters with your attorney. The purpose of putting limits on comp benefits is to provide reasonable but not unlimited benefits although if you are affected you may be quite upset by those limits. We all feel we should receive exactly what we lost with a work injury but it is insurance and insurance seldom pays out 100% of the loss. The state wants you to be protected but up to a point. Historically workers comp benefits have not been taxable so benefits approximated your take home pay but there is no doubt that you earn more working and a work injury is not a bonanza. The state limits your benefits so this yearly adjustment reminds us of that.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Unripe Issue Court of Appeals case

This week the Colorado Court of Appeals decided a case which assessed attorneys fees for bringing up an unripe issue. By statute 8-43-211 Colorado provides that when you file for a hearing on issues which are not ripe for adjudication then you shall be assessed the reasonable attorneys fees and costs of preparing for that hearing. In Youngs the claimant and the claimants attorney filed for a hearing on several issues but one was to reopen a case based upon fraud/mistake. It was determined that the issue to reopen was not ripe and eventually attorneys fees and costs amounting to over $23000 were assessed against the claimants attorney. Here other issues were ripe but the one unripe issue led to an assessment of attorneys fees. In the appeal many matters were raised including that the Colorado workers compensation system was unconstitutional but the reader is encouraged to read the case for themselves. This case may go further up the appellate steps but what is important is to be quite careful whenever an issue is endorsed because any party can be assessed attorney fees and costs.