According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Colorado ranks #10 in the top states where couples are likely to get divorced, with 3.7 divorcees per 1,000 people. And, while most have the best intentions when choosing to marry, statistics show that subsequent marriages are even more likely to end in divorce than the first marriage. Now, to a family law attorney, these statistics aren’t surprising, as we deal with these issues every day. However, when a party to a divorce or separation is not a US citizen, our everyday family law issues can become much more complicated. How to Obtain a Green Card The easiest way for a non-citizen to get a green card, and eventually citizenship, is still by marrying a U.S. citizen. This explains why the marriage itself, as well as the timing of a separation or divorce is so highly [...]
If you were found to be in possession of controlled substances considered illegal to possess under the law of Colorado then there are various levels of severity for this charge, including possession, cultivation, intent to distribute, and trafficking of a controlled substance. Each one has its own penalties, each one worse than the last. The criminal law team at Pollart and Miller LLC can help you understand the circumstances behind the charges filed against you in order to prepare the proper defense.
When yourself and the other parent of your child are no longer together, the court decides the allocation of decision-making and parenting-time related to your child. You may become the parent with whom the child resides with for the majority of time or the non-custodial parent. You may file for a motion with the Court to modify the current allocation of parental responsibilities in Colorado.
Battery and assault are often used together but in fact, they are two distinct charges that can be leveled against a person. Due to them being different crimes, the penalties are different for each as well. Nevertheless, these charges are often used together in a criminal case in order to sufficiently describe the fullness of a person's actions.
Colorado theft is said to be common and occur when a person intentionally retains, obtains or controls anything of value belonging to another individual, without authorization from the owner, or by deception or threat. Theft crimes may include but are not limited to shoplifting, embezzlement, larceny, and pretenses. Understanding everything about theft is crucial in order to avoid it.
As a parent going through divorce or child custody case, you have to be mindful of what life will look like for your children, moving forward. In allocation of parental responsibilities in Colorado, the court considers several factors. Find out what they are.
Division of property is part of the divorce process. It usually encompasses a wide spectrum of tangible and intangible possessions. Learn about the differences between separate and marital property that is usually interpreted in law.
Going through a divorce is not only an emotional experience but also an investment in your future interests. Depending on the complexity of your assets and whether you have children you might face an expensive investment. Here are 5 great tips on how you can save on your divorce attorney fees.
Even though the personal cultivation of marijuana has been legalized in Colorado, there are strict guidelines that need to be followed. Illegal possession of marijuana plants is a criminal offence. Read this article to learn more about regulations and marijuana possession limits.
Posted on June 4th, 2018 Despite society’s deep inclination towards strong family ties and bonds, there is no denying that people have loosened a bit in terms of keeping traditional norms and virtues. Gone are the days when everyone saw marriage as something sacred, and in turn, particular concerned parties like children take up much of the damage. Children of separated couples are then left with what could be the greatest dilemma of their young lives. Without a strong hold of their future, children definitely need financial help from both of their parents to ensure they can still enjoy a great life ahead of them. Because of this pressing conflict, governing bodies have integrated child support laws to provide financial help for these children. In layman’s terms, child support is an obligatory financial provision given by a particular parent to his or her child [...]
Posted on May 28th, 2018 Colorado statutory marriage demands that the parties seeking marriage be above 18 years of age, or between 16 and 18 with the permission of the parents, and possess a marriage license that is given upon a signed application. In 30 days of receiving the license, the marriage has to be solemnized by an authorized person, as a judge, or the parties themselves can self-solemnize their marriage. A certificate of marriage is then delivered to the Clerk and recorder to be registered. Colorado Common Law Marriage Colorado common law marriage does not have the above conventions and is not recognized by any statute. Nevertheless, case law has recognized that parties can become married merely by their actions, even if they never apply for a marriage license. Also called a de facto marriage, these relationships are recognized as marriages even though [...]
Pollart Miller LLC will be hosting a webinar on June 19, 2017 at 12:00 PM MDT entitled What's it Worth? Valuation and Resolution Strategies for Colorado Workers' Compensation Claims presented by Eric J. Pollart and Christopher K. Gray To register, click here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4139464856266078721?source=newsletter After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. From the May 2018 Pollart Miller Newsletter
Posted on May 21, 2017 Before Colorado became a “no-fault” state, both spouses had to consent to a divorce or one party had to show grounds, or justify the reasoning, as to why a divorce should be granted. One of the following grounds had to be proven before the court allowed a divorce case to proceed: If a spouse had committed adultery, the innocent party had the right to go to court and file a divorce petition. If one of the parties to a marriage neglected or abandoned his or her family, the deserted party could ask the court to allow a divorce to proceed. Cruelty or other bad behavior as a ground for divorce was invoked when a spouse had been abusive to the other party. The denial of conjugal rights also amounted to cruelty. At Pollart Miller LLC, we still meet people [...]
Posted on May 17, 2018 What makes up the word “criminal”? In a society that is brimming with pressing issues and conflicts in political affairs brought upon by poverty, pride, corruption and malpractices, more and more people have stayed in the danger lane by committing hideous acts and unlawful activities. Because of these tendencies caused by human nature to panic and be stricken by anxiety and fear, stricter government laws and police actions have been mandated so as to produce a more orderly and peaceful environment for all kinds of people. However, some instances have also exposed the vagueness behind the definitive system that produces the word “criminal”. Most often than not, criminals are referred to as those individuals who have done actions that are deemed to be unlawful and have breached the limits and restrictions set upon by a particular governing body. To [...]
Posted on May 7, 2018 Legal processes are generally long, tiresome and expensive, which is why often times we try to avoid them. Resolving serious disagreements outside of the courtroom is called alternative dispute resolution (ADR). There are a number of different approaches that can be taken: arbitration, neutral evaluation and settlement conferences are examples. Today, we will be taking a closer look at another option: mediation. What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)? Alternative dispute resolution is what takes place when a dispute is resolved outside of court. ADR can be the preferred option in some cases for a number of different reasons. ADR can also be a much faster and cheaper process than litigation. Another benefit of ADR over litigation is that it provides a better opportunity for different parties to come to an understanding. It can lead to more creative solutions than [...]
Posted on April 30, 2018 Many people believe that domestic violence is only associated with physical abuse. The reality is different, however. Domestic violence includes physical and mental abuse. In very simple terms, domestic violence happens between two people - one being the victim and the other, the aggressor. While financial factors can contribute to the issue, the foundational causes of domestic violence involve psychological problems. Two main emotional dynamics contribute greatly to domestic violence. A destructive thought process, also known as critical inner voice, which abusers experience both toward themselves and their partner. These negative thoughts affect them by undermining their positive feelings about themselves and those around them. As a result they experience the need to overpower their close ones. The other factor involves an unhealthy vision of connection between two people, also called fantasy bond. This mindset convinces people that another [...]
Posted on April 23, 2018 If you are facing a divorce, you may have concerns about what your financial future looks like, especially if you have been dependent upon your spouse's income. If so, speak to a family law attorney, as you may be entitled to an award of spousal maintenance. What is Spousal Maintenance? During the divorce process, the court may make an order regarding a sum of money, which the spouse with the higher income must pay to the spouse with the lower income. This is known as spousal maintenance or alimony. It will usually only be awarded, however, if one spouse does not have sufficient funds to support themselves. The amount of spousal maintenance will vary from case to case. Here are a few factors courts will take in to consideration: The age, physical condition, emotional state, and financial condition of [...]
Posted on April 17, 2018 What once was proudly built and earned together becomes “mine” or “yours” during a divorce. In this very emotional time it is not unheard of for couples to fight over the better blender. Ex-spouses battle for everything, from the smallest things (like dishes, furniture or even plants), to bigger assets such as real estate. Making the decision to live apart is easy to execute, it is dividing family assets that sadly sometimes make even the most enlightened individuals act in savage ways. In an effort to protect themselves and what they might have earned, people resort to hiding assets from their partner to minimize having to split them in the divorce. Hiding Assets During A Divorce In Colorado According to Colorado law, spouses must honestly report all of their assets, debts, expenses and income during divorce proceedings. When going into [...]
Posted on April 9, 2018 Driving under the influence, also known as a DUI, is a serious offense in Colorado. Repeat offenders now look not only at mandatory time in jail and significant fines, but possible prison time as well. The difference between UDD, DUI and DWAI Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) differ in the alcohol content found in the blood, also known as blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Those who are under the legal age to drink will be charged with Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD) if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level from .02 to .05 percent. Adults with a BAC of .05 to .079 percent will be charged with DWAI, and those with a BAC of .08 and above will be charged with DUI. Anyone with a BAC over .20 percent will be subject [...]
Posted on March 29, 2018 Divorce or separation does not terminate the financial obligations a parent may have for biological or adopted children. There are several factors a court will look at in determining what, if any, child support will be paid by one parent to the other. When parents separate, the court will first determine the parenting time each parent will have with the children. This will include a determination on which parent the children will live with the majority of the time (primary custodial parent). Next, the court will determine the regular full-time income of each parent as well as what each parent is paying for the child’s health, daycare and extraordinary expenses. This information is used to determine the amount of child support one parent should pay to the other, as the children mature. In simple terms, child support is an [...]
Posted on March 12, 2018 Divorce is a time of big changes. Experiencing strong emotions like sadness, pain and even anger is not unusual, and seeking sympathy is only natural. However, it is important to understand the difference between confiding in a few close friends versus sharing your thoughts and feelings with a few hundred acquaintances on social media. The average person will spend nearly two hours on social media everyday. We voluntary share information about everything we do, eat, feel or think. Unfortunately, sometimes we disregard the implications of how those expressive posts can impact us in the long-term. Colorado laws have not entirely caught up with emerging technologies, thus making it unclear how to apply the law in certain cases. For example, can social media posts be used against you during a divorce? Using Social Media Smartly Can Be Key To An [...]
Posted on March 6, 2018 Post-divorce, you are not only starting a new chapter of your life, but you also may be moving into a new financial bracket. Of course, this time, you will get to call all the shots and make all the decisions. To ensure you are going to be okay financially after your divorce, you and your soon-to-be ex should work closely with your attorneys to ensure you have a fair settlement. Things like division of assets, alimony payments and child support will all affect both of your financial futures. Once those decisions have been made, work with your attorneys and set up a post-divorce plan that will cover when and how the settlement agreement will be carried out. For instance, the settlement might state that one spouse will get half of the savings account balance. A plan would be more [...]
Posted March 3, 2018 It keeps happening. Your ex seems to somehow show up wherever you go. This cannot be a coincidence; there are too many instances where your ex is in the same place at the same time as you are. How do they know? After exhausting all possibilities you think, “Maybe I am just being paranoid” or “I must be going crazy and making too much out of this.” Chances are if something does not feel right, it is probably not. With the advent of technology, digital stalking has become easier to install and harder to detect. Trust your gut Think your phone is bugged? Ask yourself these questions: Is your battery draining more quickly than usual? Do you notice the phone randomly shutting down? Are strange text messages appearing with odd numbers or symbols? Any of these red flags could mean [...]
Posted February 26, 2018 A DUI charge in Colorado can be more serious than you might think. If you have been charged with a DUI, the first thing you should do is get an attorney. Why? Because they know the DUI laws probably much better than you do. Having a DUI conviction is not something you want attached to your record or your name. See how much you know. Do you know there are different grades of alcohol consumption? Minors under the legal age to drink will be charged with DUI if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level from .02 to .05 percent. Adults with .08 to .17 percent will be charged with DUI. Anyone with a BAC over .17 percent procure extra severe penalties. Do you know your rights when it comes to a DUI charge? For instance, do you have [...]
Posted February 16, 2018 For some couples, talking about money is hard. The subject is considered uncouth and avoided. However, not talking about money can lead to a relationship breakdown. Lack of compatibility in managing finances is the second most common reason for divorce. Secret stash statistics A recent poll surveying adults in relationships made startling discoveries about financial infidelity. A surprising 31 percent said they thought a spouse hiding assets in the form of hidden bank accounts or credit cards was actually worse than physical infidelity. The secret account was considered a violation of trust since one partner did not know what the money was being used for. The demographics for hiding finances were unexpected. Over 15 million adults admitted to hiding assets from their partner. On top of that, another 9 million confessed to having a secret account but eventually they came [...]
Posted February 14, 2018 Accidentally starting a fire is usually not considered arson unless reckless behavior is involved. But willfully setting a fire with malicious intent is considered arson, and a conviction of such will result in stiff penalties. There are many different types of arson. Most arson cases involve damages to buildings or structures, land, boats or other types of property. When buildings are set on fire, the degree of crime is usually decided by whether the structure was occupied or unoccupied. This is because the higher the potential for injuries or death, the more serious the crime. For example, burning an abandoned shed or barn is not considered as severe a crime of arson as burning an occupied home. When fires occur, special law enforcement units thoroughly investigate the remains to determine the point of origin (where the fire began). These investigative [...]
Posted February 9, 2018 A premarital agreement is a tool that most people relate to the wealthy, but even for those who are not of the upper class society, one would think that a premarital agreement would make things less complicated in a future divorce settlement. However, according to one consulting group, premarital agreements can have the opposite effect if they are poorly drafted. Because these agreements are really nothing more than a financial statement, the attorney drafting the prenuptials should have full disclosure and a good understanding of the couple's financial situation. Some things they may want to take into account include: The separate assets each party wants to protect and how a decrease or increase in value might affect those items. How income will be generated by the couple and possible changes in careers that might occur during the marriage. If expenses [...]
Posted February 8, 2018 Prenuptial agreements—commonly known as a prenup—often make the headlines when a celebrity takes it into a direction most of us wouldn’t even think of. Take for instance, the prenup for Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson. He wanted a clause that would force Simpson to pay him $500,000 for every pound she gained over 135 pounds. That clause just might be the reason why the couple never married. For those not in the know, a prenuptial agreement is an agreement made before the marriage that often spells out how property will be divided in the event the marriage fails. Reasons for a prenup Prenups aren’t just for the celebrities, the wealthy and the unromantic people in the world. There are a number of people with common circumstances that could benefit from putting a prenup in place: Second marriages: Often times a [...]
Posted February 6, 2018 Investors must be very careful how they handle other people's money or investments. One investment company, The Entrepreneurs Headquarters, was recently accused of swindling $1.1 million worth of bitcoin from some 600 investors. The company and its owner, who is from Longmont, were formally charged with the crime last week. The crime was alleged as a "fraudulent Ponzi-style scheme." Charges included misappropriation of funds and failing to register TEH with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. According to the CTFC, investors were told their bitcoin investments would be pooled and reinvested in a variety of options, but no investing ever actually took place. Alleged trading profits, they say, were fictitious. The defendants stopped making regular payments to their clients, and allegedly, the fraud became clear after the owner posted a private Facebook message saying that the company had been hacked. [...]
Posted January 27, 2018 We all know it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence while your ability is impaired. However, sometimes a person doesn't realize how impaired they really are, and even upstanding citizens can find themselves charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI). It is easier for law officials to prove you are impaired once you have submitted to blood, breath or field sobriety tests. Blood and breath alcohol tests must follow clear guidelines to be considered valid, but if the appropriate steps are followed the results are considered highly accurate. For adults, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or over .05 (but under .08) then you are considered to be DWAI. If your BAC is at or over 0.08 percent then you are considered to be DUI. If it exceeds [...]
Posted January 25, 2018 Embezzlement usually occurs in a place of employment or in large corporations. It is when a person, who is in charge of assets, such as money or property, steals or misuses the assets for his or her own personal gain. For instance, a store clerk or bank teller is in charge of money to make change or service customers. If they take money from their cash drawer without permission or a lawful transaction, it is embezzlement. A store clerk in a grocery mart who decides to use store products without paying for them is stealing products that are entrusted to him or her. There are many different flavors of embezzlement. Accounting embezzlement is when someone who has authority over financial records manipulates the numbers for his or her own personal gain. They may transfer funds to an account they can [...]
Posted January 24, 2018 If you play with fire, you're bound to get burned. Being charged with arson, however, doesn't necessarily mean a criminal conviction. You may not have had malicious intent when starting the fire, and there are strong defenses that you can use to give you a fighting chance in court. For example, you may have heard of the 150-acre fire that scorched Fort Collins in February 2017. It was later determined that the fire started from someone improperly disposing of a cigarette. Fires like this can and do happen, and facing arson charges as a result can be anybody's worst fear. But, if you're facing these charges, don't lose hope just yet. A skilled attorney can successfully challenge arson charges and save you from potentially devastating conviction. Here are three defenses to arson. 1) Lack of intent A defense attorney can [...]
Posted January 16, 2018 In Colorado, it is legal to purchase recreational marijuana, but the amount you can purchase or have in your possession at one time is one ounce. One marijuana store chain in Denver was recently busted for "looping." Looping is a process where a buyer purchases one ounce of marijuana at a time, but comes back over and over to purchase additional ounces. A number of Sweet Leaf Marijuana stores in the Denver area have been under investigation since November 2016. The investigation started when officials were tipped off by a nearby resident of the Sweet Leaf store on West 38th Street. The resident claimed that he had noticed people parking near his house, walking to the Sweet Leaf store, purchasing marijuana products and bringing them back to their car, and then going back to buy more. This behavior was occurring [...]
Posted on January 11, 2018 If you have been charged with a crime of arson, you are going to want a good defense. Depending on what your charges are, you may even need a defense team that is willing to go the extra mile and add "private investigator" to their position description. You know what your charges are, so you should also know what degree you are charged with. There are four degrees of arson charges. First-degree arson is the most serious. This is a crime where you are being charged with intentionally setting a fire in an occupied dwelling or structure. If you cause an explosion that results in a fire, that is the same as setting a fire. The crime is due to the intent, and it doesn't matter if the outcome shows no one was occupying the dwelling, no one was [...]
Posted on January 9, 2018 There is a common misconception that you cannot be arrested for a DUI or DWAI as long as you remain on your own property. Whether driving a vehicle down a public street or just on your own land, when you get behind the wheel of a vehicle you are consenting to obey all traffic laws. This applies even if you haven’t left your own property. If an officer suspects you of being under the influence while behind the wheel of a vehicle, they can come onto your property to question you and perform an investigation. This can result in an arrest. What qualifies as driving under the influence? In Colorado, driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired are defined as a person consuming drugs or alcohol that affected them to a degree of incapacitation. The incapacitation can [...]
Posted on December 22, 2017 Most people don't marry with the expectation that they may be divorcing somewhere in their future. If they did, everyone would expect to have prenuptials drawn up before their wedding. (This alone could prevent plenty of marriages from happening in the first place.) Married couples who have worked together to build a home and good life have probably have also been working toward accumulating some intangible assets for their future, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs), pensions, retirement funds and/or Social Security benefits. How do IRAs get divided in a divorce? In a divorce, the court will divide all assets, to include IRAs, equitably. In many instances, IRAs that were either established or increased in value during the marriage are divided to equalize the marital estate. This is true regardless of how many, or in whose name the accounts [...]
Posted on December 15, 2017 A spinal surgeon in Boulder was recently indicted for bankruptcy fraud and money laundering charges. The charges stem from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case she filed in 2014. The court alleges "bankruptcy fraud, concealment of bankruptcy assets, fraudulent transfer and concealment, and money laundering." The surgeon pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bond was set at $150,000. According to the indictment, assets that were owned but not reported in the bankruptcy included 200 U.S. silver dollars, foreign currency, gold coins, $46,000 and a diamond ring. The surgeon is also said to have transferred funds in the amount of $170,000 to companies that she had control over, although she was not the registered owner. Her home's value was listed as $900,000 in the bankruptcy filing. She also listed a rental home in New Mexico with a value of $436,490. However, [...]
Posted December 11, 2017 A 2010 survey claims that a DUI one-time offender in the United States is 615 percent more likely to repeat the offense than a person who has never had a DUI. It also claims that one-third of DUI offenders arrested are repeat offenders. In Colorado, statistics show that 40 percent of all DUI arrests are repeat offenders. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) decided they needed to come up with a solution for this problem, so they decided to test a new idea. They dispersed personal Breathalyzers to 475 residents who had prior DUI convictions. The Breathalyzers were to be used by the participants of the program after drinking to check to see if they were safe to drive before getting behind the wheel. According to the department's communications manager, the program worked. This was per surveys done on the [...]
Posted November 28, 2017 Divorce is not a life event where collaboration immediately comes to mind. But for couples looking to dissolve their marriage inexpensively and without intense fighting, a collaborative divorce can be an attractive option. A collaborative divorce is typically one that is removed from the courtroom setting - where couples are “in it to win it” against each other - and into a negotiation setting where the two parties work to troubleshoot and problem solve instead. Benefits of a collaborative divorce What may be the most attractive reason for couples to seek a collaborative divorce is that it often saves money, as litigation can be expensive. Couples discuss the division of assets and property in an informal setting and can negotiate a result that is most fair and affordable for both parties. Collaborative divorce also typically saves couples time. If you [...]
Posted November 26, 2017 Let's say that after a night of hanging out with friends, grabbing a bite to eat, and having a few drinks, you are ready to get in the car and drive back home. Sure, you have been drinking throughout the evening, but you only feel a little bit tipsy, and your home is nearby. On your route home, you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror and hear the unmistakable blare of police sirens behind you. You know exactly what is coming next: A DUI charge. Driving under the influence of alcohol--also called a DUI--is both dangerous and criminal. It may have been only a mistake, but there can still be serious consequences for driving under the influence. In the state of Colorado, there are several administrative and criminal penalties that drivers can face after being charged with a DUI. [...]
Posted July 12, 2017 The Industrial Claims Appeals Office (ICAO) affirmed the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) decision that there was an insufficient causal link between claimant’s surgery and her compensable industrial injury. Here, claimant injured her knee while pushing a washing machine at work. An MRI revealed that claimant had pre-existing issues with her knee; thereafter, she received surgery. However, the ALJ did not find that the surgery and work injury were related because an MRI revealed that claimant’s need for knee surgery was the result of a longstanding and preexisting instability condition that was not triggered by the industrial accident. On appeal, claimant argued the ALJ abused his discretion in holding that the surgery was not causally related to the injury. However, the ICAO affirmed the ALJ’s decision, holding that the ALJ did not err in concluding that the surgery and injury were [...]
Posted July 12, 2017 Where a claimant retires from employment after sustaining an injury, and that injury does not worsen between the date of injury and the date of Maximum Medical Improvement, the retirement is considered a volitional act to end employment, which terminates temporary disability benefits under the termination statutes. See C.R.S. §§ 8-42-103(g); 8-42-105(4). The Industrial Claims Appeals Office (ICAO) held that whether the claimant was offered modified employment or not is immaterial because the employer was prevented from offering modified work as a result of claimant’s retirement. Here, the claimant worked for the respondent employer as a mechanic until December 18, 2015. On October 18, 2015, the claimant submitted a letter announcing his decision to retire on December 18. The day before his retirement, on December 17, the claimant was rear ended in a traffic accident while transporting one of the [...]
Posted on July 12, 2017 The Industrial Claims Appeals Office (ICAO) held that if a Final Admission of Liability (FAL), which applies a MMI finding, but does not include the payment of indemnity benefits, does not close the claim. An ineffective FAL will not close a claim, nor will it trigger the 30-day period claimants have to request a DIME review. Here, the claimant worked for the employer as a ski instructor. On April 1, 2013, she fell while working and sustained a concussion. The claimant continued working but experienced hearing loss due to her fall. In August 2015, the claimant visited her audiologist. The audiologist diagnosed deteriorating hearing loss and prescribed hearing aids. The claimant contacted the workers’ compensation claims administrator concerning this prescription and was informed her claim had been closed by a FAL filed by the respondent on September 6, 2013. [...]
Posted July 12, 2017 The Industrial Claims Appeals Office (ICAO) held that wages from concurrent employment are allowed in the average weekly wage (AWW) calculation, even when the claimant did not lose any wages in his/her second job as a result of the industrial injury. Here, claimant’s regular job was a “sanitor” for respondent employer. Claimant sustained a compensable injury when a door broke a work, thereby jerking her body. Claimant additionally worked a second full time job. Since the date of the industrial injury, claimant had ceased work for the respondent, but continued working for his second job. After determining that the injury was compensable, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) took the AWW claimant earned from respondent employer and the AWW she earned from the second job and added them both together for a “total AWW.” Respondents appealed the AWW determination, arguing that [...]
Posted June 30, 2017 Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) reduced the compensation of a claimant under the Act by 50% for a willful failure to wear his seatbelt during a work-related accident. The claimant was a passenger in the employer’s vehicle that was involved in a motor vehicle accident in the course and scope of his employment. The employer admitted on the claim, but took a safety rule violation for the claimant’s failure to follow their seatbelt policy. At hearing, the claimant maintained that he was wearing his seat belt during the accident, despite scientific evidence from an accident reconstructionist that the seatbelt was not in use at the time of the accident. The ALJ credited the accident reconstructionist and also found persuasive the claimant’s concessions that he was responsible for safety training for the employer. While no evidence was presented that the failure to [...]
Compensability – Pain Felt While Performing Work Activities Insufficient to Show Injury was Caused or Aggravated by Work
Posted June 30, 2017 Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied and dismissed claim for occupational coccydynia of a claimant who drove six or more hours per day. The claimant was a salesperson who spent her day driving to various doctors’ offices to pitch new prescriptions. She testified that, after a promotion that increased her geographical area, she began experiencing tailbone pain while driving for the employer. The employer retained an expert who explained that coccydynia in this case was an “idiopathic” condition and was neither caused nor aggravated by the driving activity. The ALJ credited his testimony that just because the claimant felt the tail bone pain the worst during her work activities, there was no objective medical evidence that the driving activity caused or aggravated the idiopathic condition. Would you like to know more? Contact Jessica Grimes at email@example.com or 303.542.6115. [Jessica L. Grimes]
Posted June 30, 2017 Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied and dismissed claim for a claimant despite video evidence of a gate hitting her on the top of her head. The claimant was a security guard who purchased a snack from a hospital vendor during her rounds. The vendor was closing for the night, and as the claimant left the store, the vendor closed their gate, striking the claimant on the top of her head. This incident was caught on the vendor’s security camera. The claimant established care with the employer’s authorized treating provider (ATP) who was baffled by the claimant’s presentation, but assigned work restrictions. The claimant later changed ATP’s and that treater provider months of treatment and work restrictions. The ALJ determined that while an incident occurred in the course and scope of her employment, the claimant did not sustain a compensable work [...]
Compensability – “Correlation is not Causation” – Just Because Symptoms Are From Work Does Not Mean It’s a Compensable Injury
Posted June 30, 2017 Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied and dismissed claim for a claimant who alleged the onset of severe back pain while lifting a 100lb object at work. Claimant was a warehouse worker who alleged lifting an object weighing 100 lbs and injuring his back. Claimant sought medical care and was placed on restrictions by the employer’s authorized treating physician (ATP). The ALJ determined there was not a compensable event, as the claimant had years of chronic back pain and the lifting of the 100lb item was not the proximate cause of the claimant’s need for medical care and disability. The ALJ found that the “the mere fact that the Claimant’s symptoms arose at work does not prove a causal relationship”. The ALJ credited the Respondent's expert that there was no difference in the claimant’s pathology before and after the alleged lifting [...]
Winning a hearing on medical care does not end the issue as a later Division IME can overturn the ALJ’s conclusions
Posted on June 23, 2017 Respondents challenged medical care at hearing and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined that claimant’s proposed elbow surgery was not reasonable, necessary and related. The ALJ denied the treatment based on the claimant’s failure to prove entitlement based on a preponderance of the evidence. The order was not appealed and became final. Later, a Division IME determined the elbow surgery to be reasonable, necessary and related, and that claimant was not at maximum medical improvement without the surgery. The Respondents challenged the opinion of the Division IME at hearing, but failed to overcome the opinion by the applicable clear and convincing standard. The Industrial Claim Appeals Office (ICAO) held that because the two evidentiary standards were different (preponderance vs. clear and convincing) the ALJ’s initial order was not controlling and Respondents were liable for the medical benefits. Holcombe v. [...]
Posted on June 23, 2017 Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied and dismissed a 71-year-old claimant’s claim, who stumbled and fell while at work, alleging injuries to numerous body parts. The 71-year-old claimant stumbled and fell at work and reported injuries to his ankle, knee, leg, arm, shoulder and low back. The ALJ determined there was not a compensable claim because while there may have been an incident at work, claimant did not suffer any injuries which warranted medical treatment. Moreover, the ALJ concluded that none of claimant’s pre-existing conditions were aggravated by the fall. The ALJ credited the Respondent's expert that any injuries sustained by claimant as a result of the fall were minor and would have healed with minimal to no medical treatment. Therefore, claimant’s ongoing need for medical treatment was not related to the work incident, rather it was merely a result [...]
Posted on June 14, 2017 Apportionment—Court of Appeals allows for apportionment all benefits, including medical, for pre-existing genetic conditions in occupational disease claims If a claimant is alleging an occupational disease, the occupational disease is only compensable, in the case where an occupational exposure is not a necessary precondition to the development of the disease, to the extent the conditions of work contribute to the disability. This means that if a claimant has genetic-non occupational conditions which would have resulted in the disease regardless of the claimant’s occupation, apportionment is applicable even if the occupation aggravates the underlying condition. Facts • Claimant had severe osteoarthritis bilaterally in his knees requiring bilateral total knee replacement surgeries. • The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) concluded that two thirds of the cause of the claimant’s disease was due to his genetic predisposition and age/weight, and one third from his [...]
Sworn testimony before the Colorado Legislature on behalf of the Colorado Defense Lawyers Association
Posted June 14, 2017 Attorney Richard A. Orona, partner with Pollart Miller LLC, was recently asked to provide sworn testimony before the Colorado Legislature on behalf of the Colorado Defense Lawyers Association regarding Senate Bills working their way through various committees pertaining to UM/UIM coverage. Mr. Orona testified in support of the proposed amended statute that was brought forth in order to address current law which forbids uninsured and underinsured medical coverage from taking a setoff when medical insurance pays a part of the damages caused by a crash. Mr. Orona specifically testified that this does not require the insurers to pay more than the actual damages caused by the crash. He further testified an insurer is authorized to prohibit stacking the limits of more than one uninsured motorist coverage policy if the provisions are included in a single policy covering multiple vehicles or [...]