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construction accident lawyerThe construction industry has been labeled one of the most dangerous industries to work in by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In fact, according to national statistics, at least two construction workers die from work-related injuries each day. While there are many different types of construction site accidents, one of the most dangerous is trench collapses.

Trench Collapses

Trenches are dug for a number of reasons on construction sites. Trenches are also used in the agricultural industry, as well as for installing utilities and pipelines. Employees who are working around and in trenches are at a high risk of becoming injured or killed in trench collapses, side-wall collapses, and cave-ins. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 25 workers are killed each year in trench accidents. The most frequent cause is cave-ins, which kill three out of every four victims. The other fatalities are caused by electrocutions and struck-by accidents.

Local Worker Killed

Fatal trench accidents can also occur from drowning, which happened in a recent tragic accident on a job site in Larimar County that resulted in the death of a 50-year-old worker.

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney

Shortly after taking office in January, President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders that addressed COVID-19 worker protections. According to information provided on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website, the protocols outlined in the executive orders are currently just guidelines; however, it is anticipated that these guidelines will soon become enforceable, thus affecting Colorado employers.

One of the directives given by President Biden to OSHA was to come up with the COVID-19 guidelines and another was to possibly implement emergency temporary standards to address the hazards that workers face in the workplace if needed. If these guidelines become standards, they will then be enforceable. The deadline set in the executive order to make these changes is March 15, 2021.

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney

Construction workers are exposed to a wide variety of safety risks on a regular basis due to the nature of their work. As a result, they often suffer injuries related to falls from scaffolding, machinery and vehicle accidents, electrical and fire hazards, exposure to dangerous substances, and physical exertion. Fortunately, construction workers who are injured on the job in Colorado often have multiple options for recovering compensation, and with the guidance of an experienced attorney, they can decide on the best course of action.

Construction Employee Workers’ Compensation Claims

In Colorado, construction workers who are classified as employees are typically able to file a claim with their employer seeking workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries. Workers’ compensation is often available regardless of who is at fault for the injuries, and if liability lies with either the employer or the injured employee, it is usually the best option for obtaining financial assistance for the employee’s injuries.

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney repetitive stress injury

When you think of a work-related injury, the situations that first come to mind are likely immediate injuries resulting from a one-time accident such as a fall, a fire, or an incident involving machinery or equipment. Certainly, these types of injuries are covered under Colorado workers’ compensation law, but they are not the only injuries for which an employee may be granted benefits. Colorado workers can also file a claim if they have developed a repetitive stress injury through the course of their work.

What Is a Repetitive Stress Injury?

Commonly abbreviated as RSI, repetitive stress or repetitive strain injury is one that accumulates over an extended period of time due to the repetition of similar physical movements. RSIs are common in occupations that involve physical exertion, such as in the construction and manufacturing industries, as well as occupations that require the employee to maintain a posture for a long period of time, such as a truck driver or even an office worker. Examples of repetitive stress injuries include:

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney impairment rating

Work-related injuries often have long-term effects that go far beyond the initial costs of medical treatment, and in many cases, employees are left with permanent disabilities that limit their income and earning capacity. Colorado workers’ compensation includes permanent disability benefits in these cases, with the amount determined based on your previous income and an impairment rating assigned by your treating doctor. Because this impairment rating is so important for determining permanent disability benefits, it is crucial to ensure that your doctor’s assessment is accurate. If you disagree with the doctor’s recommended rating, you have the option to dispute it, and an attorney can help you do so.

How Are Impairment Ratings Assigned in Colorado?

When you are injured at work in Colorado, you will usually have to choose a doctor from a list provided by your employer. This doctor is responsible for assessing your condition and recommending and providing treatment, and as time passes, your doctor will also assess the progress of your recovery. When you reach a point at which your doctor no longer expects your condition to improve, he or she will report that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) and give you an impairment rating based on any remaining physical and mental limitations.

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney

If you have suffered a work-related injury while working for an employer in Colorado, filing a workers’ compensation claim can help you obtain financial relief through your employer to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. In some cases, your claim may be approved without issue. However, if you encounter any disputes with your employer or their insurer throughout the process—for example, if your claim is denied or you disagree with your impairment rating—you may be able to resolve it by requesting a hearing.

The Workers’ Comp Hearing Process in Colorado

If you would like for a judge to resolve your dispute, your first step is to submit an Application for Hearing to the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts (OAC), in which you will need to identify and describe the issues that you would like the hearing to address. The OAC will schedule and notify you of the date and time of your hearing so that you can begin preparing. It is a good idea to work with a qualified attorney as you prepare for your hearing, as we can help you collect evidence and identify witnesses who can testify in support of your position. We will use this evidence and testimony to help you build a comprehensive case to present at the hearing.

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Larimer County workplace injury attorney construction accident

In most cases, employees who are injured at work in Colorado are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits through their employer. This applies regardless of the severity of the injury, as long as it requires medical care, but it can be especially important for employees who suffer catastrophic injuries that permanently impact their lives. If you are severely injured at work, an attorney can help to ensure that you receive all available benefits.

Common Catastrophic Workplace Injuries

Colorado workers can be seriously injured in a number of ways, especially when their occupations put them in close contact with environmental risks and hazards. Some of the most common catastrophic injuries that occur in the workplace include:

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney

Colorado employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance, which covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job. However, not every employee who files a workers’ comp claim receives the compensation they are requesting. If you have suffered a work-related injury and your claim is denied, an attorney can help you take the steps to dispute the outcome and get the compensation you need and deserve.

Why Was My Workers’ Compensation Claim Denied?

A claim for workers’ compensation can be denied for a few different reasons, some of which include:

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney firefighter injury

With Colorado currently in the midst of the two largest wildfires in the state’s history, the importance of firefighters is clear now more than ever. If you have been involved in firefighting efforts, you know full well the risks that you face on a regular basis, and if you sustain an injury or illness as a result of your work, it is important that you understand how to obtain financial relief you need through a workers’ compensation claim.

Colorado Workers’ Compensation Laws

Under Colorado law, most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits that cover employees’ work-related injuries and illnesses regardless of who was at fault. This provides important protection for firefighters, who are often at risk of injuries from fires and explosions, collapsing structures, and smoke inhalation, among other things.

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Larimer County workmans compensation attorney

In Colorado, workers’ compensation benefits may be available to anyone who has suffered an injury on the job or in the course of their employment. In many cases, workplace injuries happen because of physical trauma, but this is not the only situation in which you can pursue compensation. You also may be entitled to benefits if you have suffered injuries or negative effects on your health due to immediate or prolonged exposure to a hazardous chemical.

Common Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace

Depending on your occupation and the industry in which you work, you may be exposed to any number of dangerous chemicals on a regular basis. Some of the most common hazardous substances encountered at work include:

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney car accident

Any time you are traveling on the road, you run the risk of being involved in a car accident, and if your job requires you to drive on a regular basis, you may be at greater risk. If you are injured in a car accident while on the job, you may fear that your only options for compensation are a claim through your car or health insurance provider, or a personal injury lawsuit against another driver. Fortunately, this is usually not the case, as you can likely obtain recovery through your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.

Employees at Risk of Vehicle Collision Injuries 

Many employees must regularly drive as part of their job responsibilities. Commercial truck and bus drivers may spend the most amount of time on the road, but delivery drivers, postal workers, and first responders including police officers, firefighters, and EMTs all drive frequently as well. The same may be true for employees of any business that provides a traveling service, as well as employees who simply run occasional work-related errands. Any employee who is injured in a car accident during the course of his or her workday may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, whether the accident was the fault of another driver or the employee him or herself.

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Larimer County wrongful death attorney workplace accident

Each year in Colorado, thousands of people are injured or fall ill due to work-related incidents, entitling them to relief through their employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. However, over 100 Coloradans die each year as a result of their work-related injuries, and many of them leave behind families who may struggle to get by after the death of their loved ones. Fortunately, these families can often obtain financial compensation through a wrongful death claim.

When Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado?

An employee can file a workers’ compensation claim when he or she has been injured on the job in the course of work, and the employee’s family members can file a wrongful death claim in a similar situation if the injuries lead to the employee’s death. The employee’s widow or widower has the first right to file a wrongful death suit within the first year after the death, and children and designated beneficiaries of the deceased can join the suit with the spouse’s consent. After the first year, children and other heirs can choose to file a suit without the spouse, and parents may file a suit if the employee has no designated heirs. In general, all wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within the two-year statute of limitations.

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Larimer County workplace injury attorney

The topic of unemployment, along with the benefits a worker may be entitled to after being laid off or furloughed, has been garnering increased media attention due to rising rates of unemployment and recent debate at the federal level. Although the spike of unemployment in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to decrease, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in June that the unemployment rate across most industries still more than doubles the rate of unemployment from the same time frame in years past. Given our current state of affairs in this country, it is important to consider how workers’ compensation may affect unemployed workers in Colorado.

Can I Receive Unemployment Benefits and Workers’ Comp Simultaneously?

This sudden rise in the rates of unemployment across the country has caused many families a lot of stress and worry, but how does this surge impact those currently receiving workers’ compensation? The number of nonfatal workplace accidents recorded in 2018 exceeded 900,000 according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Even though the number is sure to be lower in 2020 due to higher than normal unemployment rates and quarantining practices, many people receiving workers’ compensation may find themselves also being displaced by the pandemic.

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Larimer County workplace injury attorney heatstroke

Summer is often regarded as the time of year when construction projects peak. Regardless of the type of project, orange barrels and caution cones will be a common sight across the country for the next several months. Although summertime may see many construction projects undertaken in earnest, it is also a time when outdoor workers and laborers face increased risks due to heat-related illnesses. According to Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) magazine, “Productivity decreases by about one percent for every degree the temperature rises above 77 degrees Fahrenheit.” In sweltering 90 degree days, this can lead to substantial reductions in productivity, but also serious heat-related injuries for workers. In Colorado, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the event of a workplace accident. 

What Is Heat Stress?

Extended periods of time in a hot and sunny environment can lead to serious heat-related injuries, which may be exacerbated by heavy gear and equipment, manual labor, lack of airflow, lack of water, and more. Heat-related injuries can range from heat rash to the possibly lethal heatstroke, or sunstroke as it is sometimes called. Between these two lies a variety of other potentially dangerous conditions, and somewhere in the middle of the spectrum lies “heat stress.” Although heat stress itself is an umbrella term for several heat-related injuries, heat stress injuries share many symptoms. 

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney disability

Although Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ “Stay At Home” order officially expired on April 26, many counties and cities in the state have continued to observe restrictions on business in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus. For many Coloradoans, the return to normalcy will be a much longer time in coming as the Colorado Public Radio reports the COVID-19 pandemic “has erased one in 10 jobs in Colorado.” As heavily affected industries—such as restaurants, construction, and public works—begin to operate again and resume their projects, it may be more important than ever to be vigilant about safety. Workplace accidents occur even in the best of times and to the most cautious of employees. As a number of employees begin to return to work and employee density around construction sites, high-pace workplaces, and hazardous areas increases, accidents can occur. Therefore, it is important to understand disability and how it relates to workers’ compensation claims.

The Four Categories of Disabilities in Colorado

When dealing with the possibility of lost time or wages due to a workplace injury, it is imperative to remember not all injuries and their resulting disabilities are equal. The State of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment recognizes this and has defined four categories of disability under which injured workers can make claims. They are temporary or permanent, and partial or total disability as explained below:

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Larimer County workplace injury attorney

Every job comes with certain risks, and some occupations can be more dangerous than others. If you suffer a workplace injury in any type of industry, the consequences can be devastating. It is imperative that you seek proper medical attention quickly. However, Colorado has a specific timeline and method that employers and workers must follow regarding the choice of a medical provider. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can play a key role in this process, as they will be able to help you navigate the law and ensure that you receive the benefits that you deserve.

Selecting a Medical Practitioner

Colorado law dictates that either an employer or his or her workers’ compensation insurance company has the right to choose a designated medical provider. In most cases, a victim of a workplace injury must be given a list of at least four physicians or corporate medical providers to choose from if available. This is to prevent a victim from not having any say in the matter. To ensure that the selections are at least somewhat diverse, one of the doctors on the list must have distinct ownership. This means that an employer cannot just present a list of providers who are under shared ownership and at the same location.

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney overexertion

A workplace accident can occur even when proper protocol is followed. Whether you work in a physically taxing job such as construction, or you are in an office setting, it is important to understand the protection that you have under workers’ compensation laws. In general, all companies in Colorado are required to carry workman’s comp insurance to cover their employees in the event of an accident. Some injuries are relatively minor, while others can result in permanent disability or even death. If you were hurt while performing your job, you may need significant rehabilitation, or you may be unable to continue working at your full potential. That is why it is imperative that you consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to learn your options regarding benefits. 

What Is “Overexertion”?

You do not need to suffer from a severe injury like a broken bone to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. A large percentage of the workers’ comp claims in this country are filed under overexertion, which occurs when a person feels acute pain either from repetitively using the same muscle or from pushing their body past its limits. Some cases of overexertion, like frequently lifting of heavy objects resulting in severe back pain, are obvious, while others are much more subtle. For example, if you believe that your job leaves you chronically fatigued, and you injured yourself because of that, you could claim that you suffered from overexertion. The subtlety involved in many of these potential claims might be contested by your employer’s insurance company, which is why it is essential to have legal representation when making a workers' comp claim. 

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Larimer County workers compensation attorney coronavirusNow that the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared COVID-19 (coronavirus) a pandemic, this pervasive virus brings with it a slew of legal concerns. One such concern is whether you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you contracted coronavirus while working. The answer to this question is complicated. However, if you take certain factors into consideration, you will have a better understanding as to whether filing a coronavirus workers’ comp claim is an option for you.

Does Coronavirus Qualify You for Workers’ Comp?

The average cold and flu typically do not necessitate workers’ compensation claims, since they are usually not serious and can be handled with paid time off or sick time. However, coronavirus is more complex. This highly contagious pandemic can mean life or death for some people. Even if you contract an infection while working, but your symptoms are mild, you could still transmit it to family and friends who might be more susceptible to life-threatening conditions resulting from the virus. In that sense, it is more dangerous than most illnesses that you might contract at work.

Since this virus is so new, the insurance and legal professions are rushing to catch up with the times. Some workers’ comp policies are being amended in light of the coronavirus. Employers and employees alike are reinterpreting the policies already set in place. Some states, specifically Washington, are already requiring workers’ compensation benefits for those exposed to the virus while at work.

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Larimer County workplace injury attorney

While no two workers’ compensation cases are the same, many of the questions injured employees ask overlap with each other. Having any kind of life-altering injury can be a traumatic experience, but for workers, there is also the uncertainty of where their next paycheck will come from if they are unable to work for an extended period of time. When a person is injured while performing his or her job in Colorado, workers’ compensation kicks in to handle the costs of medical expenses related to the injury and address lost wages. Below are some of the typical questions employees ask when seeking workers’ compensation.

How Do I Report the Accident?

In Colorado, the ideal time to report a workplace accident to an employer is four business days. The official notice must be in writing, even if you have verbally reported the accident. It is possible to report the incident after four days, but workers’ compensation benefits may be restricted depending on the length of time after the accident. If you cannot report the accident yourself, then someone may do so on your behalf. 

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Larimer County workplace accident injury compensation attorney

When a worker accepts a job, he or she should also understand any occupational hazards that come with that profession. For an office worker, that may mean carpal tunnel syndrome, but for a construction worker, the consequences can be more serious. Regardless of a person’s occupation, most employers in Colorado are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. This type of insurance prevents employers from being held liable in the instance of a workplace accident, but it also provides benefits to any injured employees. 

What Benefits Are Included With Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a government program, and any eligible employee has the right to file for benefits. If a person is hurt and cannot return to work temporarily or permanently, he or she can file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation will replace lost wages for the time an employee is away and cover the costs of medical care for work-related injury or illness. 

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Hoggatt Law Office, P.C.

970-225-2190 | 1-800-664-3151

123 North College Avenue, Suite 160,
Fort Collins, CO 80524

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