Hopefully you never have to experience an injury on the job, but in construction and contracting industries, injuries are all too common. If you are ever injured on the job, here are some critical things to keep in mind to ensure both your personal safety and your legal rights, and to avoid any missteps with the law that could negatively impact your case:
Medical treatment and notification of injury – The toll of repetitive motion injuries, exposure to hazardous materials, and the dangers of operating machinery are part of daily like if you’re in the construction industry. Even though safety training and protective equipment, accidents can still happen. If your injury is life- or limb-threatening, go to the nearest emergency room for immediate medical attention and then notify your supervisor(s) in writing (see more about notification and the law below). The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) defines such injuries as “threatens a portion of your body or your life in such a way that immediate medical care is needed to prevent your death or serious damage.” For injuries that are not threatening, notify your supervisor(s) in writing before getting medical attention.
Seeking a medical provider – Your employer will likely have a designated medical provider who can handle your care. But should you choose to use your own provider, understand that your medical benefits may not get paid and you may be liable for your own medical costs. It’s also important to note that after the claim is filed, the insurance company can request that you be examined by another doctor of their choice. If you forfeit this examination, the insurance company may ask the Division of Workers’ Compensation for permission to stop your benefits.
Understanding the laws – For labor intensive fields such as construction, the potential cost of work-related injuries are high. That’s why construction employers in Colorado are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Regardless of who is at fault, if you are injured on the job, your employer is obligated to compensate you under the law. No matter what the injury is—big or small—employers always need to know about it. The law says you must notify your employer within four days of your injury in order to avoid any penalties or loss in compensation. The notification has to be in writing, even if you’ve already verbally notified your employer, and you can lose as much as up to one day’s compensation for each day you delay notification. However, it’s also your employer’s responsibility to post a sign requiring four days’ written notice. And you can still file a claim for benefits even if you were delayed in notifying your employer.