What is the Colorado Workers’ Comp Waiting Period?

Doctor helping injured worker at construction site

The Colorado Workers’ Compensation Waiting Period refers to the initial period of time that an injured worker must be unable to work due to a work-related injury or illness before they become eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Understanding this waiting period is crucial for workers in Colorado who have suffered work-related injuries and their need to file a workers’ compensation claim.

In Colorado, there is typically a three-shift waiting period for workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits. This means that an injured worker must be unable to work for at least three days of work before they can start receiving wage replacement benefits. However, it’s essential to understand some key points regarding this waiting period and the filing process:

  1. Notification to the Employer: Regardless of the waiting period, it is critical for injured workers to promptly inform their employer about the work-related accident or injury. This notification should happen as soon as possible after the incident occurs, ideally on the day of the injury. Failing to notify the employer promptly can lead to complications in the workers’ compensation claim process.  Even if an injured worker is missing work as a result of a work-related injury, for example, that injured worker may be penalized one full day of wage-replacement benefits for every day they fail to notify the employer of their injury.  Filing a First Report of Injury is a crucial starting point in the claim process.
  2. Medical Treatment: Injured workers should also seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the injury occurs. Delaying medical treatment can worsen the condition and may raise questions about the seriousness of the injury when filing a claim. Moreover, obtaining treatment from authorized providers (i.e. one of the medical professionals from a list the employer should give the injured worker) will usually result in the imposition of work/activity restrictions that ultimately trigger an obligation to pay wage replacement benefits in cases where the employer cannot accommodate the restrictions.
  3. Waiting Period Details: During the waiting period, the injured worker will not receive wage replacement benefits. However, if the worker is unable to work for more than three days due to the injury, they should begin receiving wage replacement benefits for day four and beyond. If the injured worker misses at least fourteen (14) days of work, they will be reimbursed for the first three days they missed, as well.
  4. Temporary Disability Benefits: After the waiting period, if the injured worker’s disability persists, they will be eligible for: (1) temporary total disability benefits if they are not working at all; or (2) temporary partial disability benefits if they are working fewer hours or at a lower rate of pay. The amount of compensation typically depends on the injured workers’ average weekly wage at the time of the injury.  There are weekly and cumulative caps on the amount of temporary disability benefits payable to injured workers.
  5. Permanent Disability Benefits: If the injury results in a permanent disability, the injured worker may be entitled to financial benefits over and above wage replacement benefits.
  6. Other Benefits: Workers’ compensation benefits can also include coverage for medical expenses related to the injury or illness, compensation for disfigurement, and mileage reimbursement.

In summary, the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Waiting Period is a three-shift period during which injured workers are not eligible for wage replacement benefits. However, if that worker misses more than two weeks due to their injury, the waiting period will be reimbursed.

It is crucial for workers to promptly inform their employer about any work-related injury.

Failing to report the injury promptly can lead to complications in the workers’ compensation claim process and potential delays in receiving benefits. Moreover, workers should be aware of the various deadlines associated with filing a workers’ compensation claim to ensure they receive the benefits they are entitled to under Colorado law. Keating Wagner Polidori Free’s workers’ compensation attorneys can help you through the process.