Colorado Workers’ Compensation for Injured Hotel Workers
Learn how to secure maximum workers’ comp benefits after an injury working at a Denver hotel
With nearly 4,500 hotels in Colorado employing more than 63,000 workers, the state’s hotel industry has been prospering in recent years. In fact, in 2023, the industry is expected to generate a whopping $815 million in state and local tax revenues, a $116 million increase from 2020.
Despite these positive economic signs for the industry and its workers, hotel jobs aren’t without risks. Each year, hotel workers are exposed to a number of hazards that lead to serious injuries, often requiring extensive medical treatment and time off work.
Fortunately, most Colorado hotel workers qualify for workers’ compensation after an on-the-job injury or illness, which provides crucial financial assistance during their recoveries.
Did you know?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020, hotel workers suffered injuries at a rate of 3.3 per 100 full-time employees. This rate is slightly higher than the injury rate for workers in all private industries of 2.9.
Additionally, the BLS reported that service occupations (including hotel workers) accounted for about 50% of all nonfatal intentional injuries requiring time off work due to violence from another person.
What are the most common hazards and injuries for hotel workers?
Hotel workers are exposed to various hazards that can lead to a range of injuries, from minor cuts to more severe issues like broken bones and head injuries. Below are the most common types of injuries and their causes:
- Overexertion injuries. These injuries refer to strain or damage to muscles, tendons and joints, typically caused by activities that require excessive force or effort. Lifting heavy objects like luggage, pushing cleaning carts, or making beds can cause overexertion injuries, commonly affecting the back and shoulders.
- Repetitive stress injuries. Continual repetitive motions, such as vacuuming, sweeping, folding laundry or preparing food, can lead to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.
- Traumatic brain injuries and broken bones. Slips, trips, and falls on wet or cluttered floors or violence from customers or coworkers can result in fractures and head injuries, including concussions and brain bleeds.
- Spinal cord injuries. Heavy lifting, slip-and-fall accidents, or violent acts can cause back injuries, ranging from minor strains to more serious issues like herniated discs.
- Burns. Contact with hot surfaces or equipment in the kitchen or laundry areas can result in burns. Chemicals in cleaning agents can also cause burns if not handled appropriately.
- Cuts and lacerations. Handling sharp objects like kitchen knives or broken glass can lead to cuts and lacerations.
Understanding these common injuries and their causes can help hotel management implement effective safety measures. Employee training and the appropriate use of safety equipment can also mitigate these risks.
Colorado hotel employee assaulted with a horseshoe
In April 2023, a hotel employee in Pueblo confronted a man who was attempting to steal snacks from the hotel. The man responded by striking the employee in the head with a horseshoe and then throwing a piece of rebar at him. The assailant then fled deeper into the hotel, pulling a fire alarm, causing property damage, and even attempting to microwave a fire extinguisher.
Officers from the Pueblo Police Department responded to the incident and took the man into custody, charging him with first-degree burglary, among other offenses. Fortunately, the hotel employee was not seriously injured in the attack, but any medical bills related to the incident would be covered under workers’ comp.
Are hotel workers in Colorado entitled to workers’ comp benefits?
Yes, hotel workers in Colorado are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they’re injured on the job. According to Colorado law, most businesses with 1 or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This means that hotels, as employers, are typically obligated to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees.
To qualify for these benefits, you must be classified as an employee. (Independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ comp.) Additionally, your injury, illness or disease must be the direct result of your job or your work environment.
What injuries are covered under workers’ comp?
Workers’ comp covers a wide array of injuries and conditions, provided that they occurred within the “course and scope” of employment. This includes an acute, one-time injury, a worsened pre-existing condition, or an occupational disease.
- One-time injuries. As long as you were performing tasks that were part of your job duties when an accident occurred that led to an injury, you should be covered under workers’ comp.
- Pre-existing conditions. In addition to injuries that occur directly as a result of work tasks, workers’ comp also often covers injuries that are exacerbated by pre-existing conditions. For example, if you had a prior knee injury and it worsened due to the activities you performed at work, you may be eligible for benefits.
- Occupational diseases and illnesses. These are conditions that you acquire as a result of repetitive tasks or harmful substances or elements in your work environment over a period of time. Examples include long-term exposure to toxic chemicals resulting in illnesses like mesothelioma or repetitive strain injuries from continuous physical tasks.
Remember that to qualify for benefits, you must be able to prove that your injury, disease or illness is directly related to your job duties or environment. Often, this can be more challenging with pre-existing conditions and occupational diseases, so it’s best to consult with an attorney to ensure you have all the necessary evidence to support your claim.
What if the injury was my fault?
Workers’ compensation is a form of no-fault insurance. The term “no-fault” in the context of workers’ compensation means that, in most instances, eligible employees can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for their work-related injury or illness. That includes the injured person.
In other words, even if you contributed to your own injury through an error or mistake, you’re usually still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits as long as the injury wasn’t intentional and you weren’t under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time.
In addition to alcohol or drugs, you might be ineligible for coverage if you were engaged in another illegal act. However, making a mistake or even your own negligence would not bar you from receiving benefits.
This system is designed to ensure that injured workers receive medical treatment and compensation for lost wages without the need for protracted legal battles to determine fault.
What workers’ comp benefits are injured hotel workers entitled to?
Injured hotel workers who qualify for workers’ compensation can typically expect to receive a range of benefits, although the specifics will vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury. Here are some common types of benefits:
- Medical benefits. All necessary medical treatment related to the work injury should be covered. This includes doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, prescription medications, and even transportation costs to medical appointments.
- Temporary disability benefits. If an injured worker is unable to work for a temporary period while they recover, they may receive a portion of their wages until they’re cleared to return to work.
- Permanent disability benefits. If the injury results in permanent impairment that prevents a worker from ever returning to work, they may be eligible for long-term wage loss benefits or a lump-sum payment.
- Vocational rehabilitation. If the injury prevents a worker from returning to their previous job, they may be entitled to retraining or education to help them re-enter the workforce in a different capacity.
- Death benefits. In tragic cases where a work-related injury leads to death, the worker’s dependents may be eligible for death benefits, which can include compensation for funeral costs and financial support due to lost income.
How long does an employee have to report an injury in Colorado?
In Colorado, an employee typically has 10 days to report a work-related injury to their employer. Failure to report the injury within this time frame could jeopardize your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
What else do I need to do to ensure a successful workers’ comp claim?
In addition to notifying your employer within 10 days of a work-related injury or the discovery of a work-related disease or illness, you’ll also want to take the following steps:
- Seek immediate medical attention. It’s essential to get medical help as soon as possible to make it easier to prove that your injury is work-related. However, it’s equally important to seek care from an employer-approved medical provider. The reason for this is twofold:
- a. Compliance with workers’ comp rules. Seeing an employer-approved physician is generally required for your medical treatment and procedures to be covered under workers’ comp.
- b. Medical documentation. An employer-approved doctor will provide the necessary medical documentation you’ll need to support your claim. This documentation will detail the extent of your injuries, the proposed treatment plan, and the expected time away from work.
- Follow all medical advice and treatment plans. Be sure to comply with all the medical advice, prescriptions, and treatment plans provided by your medical practitioner. Any non-compliance can be a reason for a denied claim.
- Keep records. Always keep any medical records, bills, and any correspondence with your employer or the insurance company. These could be essential in the event that your claim is challenged.
- Consult an attorney. If your claim is denied or you face issues with your employer or their insurance company, consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
By carefully following these steps, you can significantly improve the chances of your workers’ comp claim being accepted and receiving the benefits you’re entitled to.
Contact an experienced Colorado work injury attorney
If you suffered a serious injury, disease or illness while working in a Colorado hotel, contact the knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys at The Babcock Law Firm. Our firm has extensive experience in negotiating maximum compensation for injured Colorado workers. Let us deal with your employer and their insurance carrier for you so you can put all of your energy toward your recovery.
Contact our office today to schedule your free consultation to learn how we can help with your claim.
Colorado, J. M. T. C. S. -. (2023, February 23). Colorado expected to generate $815M in hotel taxes, up 16.7% since pre-pandemic. www.summitdaily.com. https://www.summitdaily.com/news/colorado-expected-to-generate-815m-in-hotel-taxes-up-16-7-since-pre-pandemic/
IBISWorld – Industry Market Research, Reports, and Statistics. (n.d.). www.ibisworld.com. Retrieved October 16, 2023, from https://www.ibisworld.com/us/industry/colorado/hotels-motels/14414/
TABLE 1. Incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by industry and case types, 2020. (n.d.). www.bls.gov. https://www.bls.gov/web/osh/summ1_00.htm
Workplace violence: homicides and nonfatal intentional injuries by another person in 2020 : The Economics Daily: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, November 21). www.bls.gov. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2022/workplace-violence-homicides-and-nonfatal-intentional-injuries-by-another-person-in-2020.htm