Legislative Recap Of Denver Metro Workers’ Compensation Proposals

A proposed law will offer more doctor choice to injured West Denver Metro workers. However, several other reforms did not make it through the legislature.

Several workers' compensation reform proposals were before the state legislature this last session. The proposal that passed addressed the common question injured Denver Metro workers often have: Can I use my own doctor?

Usually, you are not allowed to pick your own doctor. Employers in the state have been required to offer a choice of at least two doctors. The bill that passed in the Senate and the House will provide more doctor choice. An employer or workers' compensation insurer will need to provide a list of at least four available physicians. After Governor Hickenlooper signs the bill, the law will go into effect on April 1, 2015.

Proposals That Did Not Pass

In the negotiations surrounding the bill, several other proposals did not make the cut. Currently, an employer can reduce an injury settlement by 50 percent if there is any indication that a worker failed to follow safety rules. Labor advocates tried to remove this provision, but business interests were unwilling. Working with an experienced workers' compensation attorney is often necessary if an employer brings up a safety rule violation.

Another measure that did not make the final bill was a proposal that addressed the severance of injured workers who end up leaving their jobs. The proposal sought to reduce the number of workers who leave their job after an injury settlement. However, neither side could come up with a way to address the problem adequately.

PTSD Benefits For Police Officers

Another issue raised by police unions across the country is expanding workers' compensation benefits to cover post-traumatic stress disorder. In Connecticut, police and firefighters can collect workers' comp if they use deadly force or witness the death of a colleague. A recent law expands that to municipal employees who witness a violent event and suffer PTSD as a result.

In Denver Metro, a proposal to expand workers' comp coverage to include PTSD died. A legislative task force will however be appointed to study the issue further. This comes after the July 2012 shooting at the movie theatre in Aurora. One of the drafters of the bill explained to the Associated Press that law enforcement officers are suffering from PTSD but keeping it a secret and going to work with a smile on their face.

The West Denver Metro Chiefs of Police Association expressed concerns that almost every officer might qualify. They did acknowledge that PTSD is a real problem.

The Current State Of Denver Metro Psychological Claims

To receive workers' compensation benefits for a "mental impairment" there must be testimony of a licensed physician or psychologist. If there is no accompanying physical injury, the burden is quite high. The psychologically traumatic event that caused the symptoms must be something outside of a workers' normal experience. A disciplinary action, such as demotion or job transfer would not be enough. Witnessing a robbery while working at a bank or convenience store might be a different story.

The workers' compensation system like much of the court system is not well equipped to handle injuries that are not visible. A physical injury may also cause physiological issues like depression that also need to be treated before getting back to maximum recovery. A local workers' compensation attorney can guide you through the complex work comp system and offer advice based on your unique circumstances.

Keywords: workplace injury, doctor choice, PTSD