Key Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Personal Injury Awards

People are often confused about workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado. Many believe that recipients are paid in a manner similar to personal injury lawsuits. Others may understand that there is a statutory standard, but are unaware of the parameters. Let’s try to clear up some of this confusion with an overview on what workers’ compensation pays employees who have been injured in work-related accidents or have fallen ill due to their job duties.

Many of you are aware that personal injury awards can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars based on the type of injury sustained and the fault of the negligent party. These awards and settlements are often boosted by the careless or negligent behavior of the company that led to the injury. In many cases, the amount of money received is increased due to punitive damages. Workers’ compensation benefits operate quite differently.

Negligence or fault is not a factor in workers’ compensation cases. Instead, these benefits are set up as insurance for instances when your work duties lead to injury or illness. The benefits are meant to replace the work income that you would have normally earned had your injury not prohibited you from working and gaining employment income. Rather than assigning blame and seeking to compensate you for what you have lost and suffered, workers comp pays you a percentage of the wages you have lost due to your injury. This can range from a temporary timeframe to a permanent arrangement based on the unique circumstances of your injury and outcome.

You Won’t Believe These Unusual Workers’ Compensation Cases

In some cases, you may be eligible to receive education or vocational benefits to help you learn a new skill or trade when you are no longer able to perform the job you were doing prior to your injury. And if your injuries are so severe that you can neither return to your previous work nor perform the duties of some other job, then you may be eligible for long term disability payments. These benefits seek to compensate you for the income you will lose out on for the duration of your remaining working days. Experts apply extensive and complicated formulas to determine what this lifelong work income would be. Benefits are then paid out as either a lump sum or periodic payments over time.

These benefits also cover medical bills related to your injury, to include treatment, surgeries, therapy, rehabilitation and some associated costs, such as mileage to and from your medical appointments.

Workers’ Compensation Fee Schedule and Benefit Payments

The Colorado Workers’ Compensation fee schedule is reviewed annually. For the July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 time period, the maximum amount you can receive for lost wages is $939.82 per week. This may apply to workers who’s weekly earnings were at least $1,409.73. If you are determined to be disabled and your impairment is 25 percent or less, the maximum lump sum you may receive is $86,697.04. If your impairment is rated at higher than 25 percent, the maximum amount is $173,391.90. This applies to workers who were injured after January 1, 2014. These are the maximums. To determine the specific amount you are eligible to receive, your employer’s workers’ comp carrier determines your average weekly wage and multiples it by 66 and 2/3 percent. There is no minimum weekly benefit.

These formulas are often complicated and confusing. You may also be eligible for scheduled or non-scheduled impairment and/or body disfigurement. Our experienced Denver workers’ compensation lawyers or Denver Disability Attorney can help you understand these benefits and work to ensure you receive the maximum amount that you are entitled to under law.


Originally published at kaplanmorrell.com on August 1, 2016.