If you’re injured at your job in Denver, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs or any number of small towns and ranching communities across our beautiful, it’s pretty simple to understand that Colorado’s workers’ comp laws apply.
This “jurisdiction” as it’s known is pretty clear cut. But what if I’m working out of state when my injury occurs?
It’s pretty common for firms to do business in several states. Also, many residents of border towns like Fort Collins or Durango may drive across state lines to their jobs.
In the first decades following the establishment of Colorado’s workers’ comp system, there were no clear statutes answering the question posed above. Appellate court cases determined that “…the law of the place of contract governed” determined which state’s jurisdiction your case would apply.
The case Industrial Commission of Colorado vs. Aetna Life Insurance, Co. provides some insight. A Colorado-based construction firm hired a resident to supervise construction projects across the mountain west. While traveling from Idaho to Wyoming one day, the employee was sadly killed in an automobile accident.
The court ended up awarding the workers’ heirs full benefits since being out-of-state was “…an essential part of his employment…” Since the employment contract was initiated in Colorado and the employer was based here, our state’s laws regarding work injuries applied.
However, just because an injury occurs in Colorado doesn’t automatically mean our state’s laws will apply. In the case Platt vs. Reynolds, the court decided an injured worker was not entitled to benefits under Colorado law since a “substantial portion” of his employment was out of state. Only the employment contract was made in Colorado, nothing else. The injured worker had no other ties to the state.
Finally, in 1957, clearer standards in determining jurisdiction were developed following the Denver Truck Exchange vs. Perryman case. In order to be covered out-of-state under Colorado’s workers’ comp laws, an injured worker must meet two of the following three criteria:
- Employment contract created in Colorado
- Employment in Colorado under a contract created in another state
- Substantial employment in Colorado
It doesn’t matter whether someone is a resident of Colorado – all that matters is whether the employee meets 2 of the 3 criteria.
For example, if a worker’s only link to Colorado is the fact they’re working here when the injury occurs, they are NOT entitled to benefits.
Read more about cases involving workers’ comp jurisdiction in our knowledge center article – Colorado Workers’ Compensation Jurisdiction.
While there are many case law precedents out there, the basic rule is the three criteria mentioned above. If you meet two of them (…which by default is the most you can), then your claim should be covered.
Many companies though are either unaware or dodge responsibility in situations like this. If you’ve been injured working out-of-state and are experiencing roadblocks in obtaining your benefits, discuss your case with an experienced Colorado workers’ comp lawyer today.