Colorado Construction Accident Lawyer

Though construction workers comprise approximately 6% of the U.S. work force, the construction industry accounts for a whopping 20% of all work-related deaths. Indeed, construction accounts for the second highest fatalities of any industry. According to OSHA, construction sites are one of the deadliest places to work, especially for younger workers. Beyond the risk of fatal injuries, construction sites pose a high risk for nonfatal injuries.

It is currently estimated that 1 in 10 construction workers will be injured each year. 2/3rds of these injuries will occur within the employee's first year on the job. A nonfatal construction accident often involves:

  • forklift injuries,

  • scaffolding accidents,

  • machinery accidents,

  • ladder accidents, and

  • other injuries involving construction equipment and work sites.

If you have experienced a work related injury, Colorado's Workers Compensation Act may provide coverage for you. Following is a brief overview of this statute and how a Colorado construction accident lawyer or a construction accident law firm can help you navigate some of the legal issues associated with filing a workers compensation claim:

Colorado’s Workers’ Compensation Act

Under Colorado law, aside from limited exceptions, every employer is required to carry workers compensation insurance that will provide coverage for every work-related injury sustained by their employees. If the statutory requirements are met, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for each statutory employer. This means that an employee is not permitted to maintain an independent lawsuit against the employer. Any cause of action must be raised solely under the Workers Compensation Act and all benefits will be paid according to the act.

Though independent contractors are typically excluded from the definition of an "employee", the Workers Compensation Act carves out an important exception for construction workers and construction site accidents. To further ensure that construction workers are timely compensated for a construction injury, Colorado law provides that any person or entity conducting business by contracting out work is considered a "Statutory Employer" that must maintain workers compensation insurance for all workers providing services under them. Before any construction work is performed, every employer on the construction site must provide proof of workers compensation coverage or be subjected to an administrative fine. C.R.S. § 8-41-404(3)

Within a construction project, a statutory employer would encompass every contractor or subcontractor that is within the same contract “chain.” If, for example, an employee of a plumbing subcontractor is injured by falling debris from the roof, the plumbing subcontractor, the general contractor, and the property owner would be statutory employers for the purposes of a workers’ compensation claim. Further, once the compensation claim is paid, the plumbing subcontractor, general contractor, and property owner would be protected from claims resulting from the injury, regardless of which entity paid the claim. However, subcontractors who are not in the same chain of contracting as the plumbing subcontractor could be sued for negligence and/or premises liability.

Under Colorado’s workers' compensation act, any employee entitled to compensation under the act that is “injured or killed by the negligence or wrong of another not in the same employee…may take compensation under [the act] and may also pursue a remedy against the other person to recover any damages in excess of the compensation available under [the act].” C.R.S. § 8-41-203

The ability to recover from a responsible third party is a critical consideration, as Colorado’s workers compensation act is a "no fault" and precludes the recovery of “pain and suffering” and other “non-economic damages” against an employer. If there is a responsible non-party at fault, an injured construction worker can be fully compensated for the injury caused by the at fault party.

Benefits Available Under the Workers’ Compensation Act

If a construction worker is injured from the course and scope of their employment, then they will be covered for purposes of Colorado’s workers compensation act. Under the Act, a construction accident lawyer could help the injured worker recover the following benefits:

  • Medical Care: An injured worker is entitled to all reasonable medical care/treatment “needed at the time of the injury or occupational disease and thereafter during the disability to cure and relieve the employee from the effects of the injury.” C.R.S. § 8-42-101

  • Temporary Partial Disability: In the case of a temporary partial disability, the employee is entitled to sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the difference in their average weekly wage at the time of the incident and their average weekly wage during the continuance of the temporary partial disability, not to exceed ninety-one percent of the state average weekly wage.

  • Temporary Total Disability: In the case of a temporary total disability, the employee is entitled to sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the employee’s average weekly wage, so long as the disability remains total, not to exceed ninety-one percent of the state average weekly wage per week.

  • Permanent Partial Disability: The Workers’ Compensation Act includes a schedule of common injuries that dictates the length of compensation permitted. C.R.S. § 8-42-107 For instance, a worker who loses an arm at the shoulder will be entitled to additional compensation of 208 weeks. For any injuries not identified by this schedule, the employee will be given a “medical impairment rating” based upon the “American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment" Based upon this rating and an age multiplier, the injured worker will receive an additional four hundred weeks of calculated benefits.

  • Permanent Total Disability: In cases of permanent total disability, the injured employee will be entitled to sixty-six and two-thirds percent of their average weekly wage at that time of the incident until death.

  • Disfigurement: if an employee is seriously, permanently disfigured about the head, face, or parts of the body normally exposed to public view, in additional to all other compensation, the employee may receive compensation for an additional $4,000.00.

Acts that May Reduce the Recovery of Benefits

Under the Workers Compensation Act, there are a few scenarios that may reduce the injured worker's recoverable benefits. Following are a few common situations that will reduce recoverable benefits by 50%:

  • The injury is caused by the willful failure of the employee to use safety devices provided by the employer.

  • The injury results from the employee’s willful failure to obey any reasonable rule adopted by the employer for the safety of the employee.

  • The employee willfully misleads an employer concerning the employee’s physical ability to perform the job, and the employee is subsequently injured on the job as a result.

Timeline to File a Workers Compensation Claim

To be eligible for compensation under the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act, workers must report their injury within certain time limits. It’s important to be aware of these limits, as failure to meet them could mean a reduction of benefits or even a complete bar from filing a claim.

  • Notice to Employer: Within ten days from the injury, the injured employee must notice their employer of the injury. The failure to timely do so may result in losing one day’s compensation for each day’s failure to report. C.R.S. § 8-43-102.

  • Employer’s Report: Within ten days from receiving notice of the injury from the employee, the employer must report the occupational injury to the division of workers compensation. This is known as the "First Report of Injury"

  • Admission or Denial of Liability: Within 20 days of filing the Employer’s Report, the employer must notify the Division of Workers’ Compensation whether liability for the injury is admitted or denied. If the employer files a “Notice of Contest,” then the employee may request an expedited hearing on the issue of compensability. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, the employee bears the burden of proving entitlement to benefits by a preponderance of the evidence. If the employer admits liability, then they must also state the amount of compensation to be paid, to whom it will be paid, and the period for which benefits are to be paid.

When to Contact a Colorado Construction Accident Lawyer

If you’re injured on the job in Colorado, you should file a workers’ compensation claim to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other recoverable benefits. An experienced construction accident lawyer or construction accident law firm can guide you through the process and help you get the full benefits to which you’re entitled to under the Workers Compensation Act.

If you have been involved in a construction accident or other work-related injury, I would be more than happy to speak with you. As a Colorado construction accident attorney, I can help you understand Colorado's Workers Compensation Act and how it may affect what benefits you are able to obtain from your employer while you recover. Further, there may be facts to warrant filing a claim outside of the Workers Compensation Act, if there is a non-employer that either caused or contributed to your injuries. If you would like to set up a time to personally speak with me, you may do so by clicking the link below. I look forward to hearing from your and the opportunity to earn your business.