Donald J. Kaufman Attorney at Law
Kaufman Colorado Workers' Compensation Law Center, LLC Abogado Attorney Lawyer Lastimadura Corte

Colorado Work Comp

Best Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Spine Surgeon or Neurosurgeon According to Dr. Donald Corenman.

"If you are a planning treatment of your neck or back condition, below are the best questions to ask when interviewing a spine surgeon:


1. What is your infection rate? And along the same lines, what is the hospital’s infection rate?

2. With whom do you operate?

3. Do you have a resident, fellow, co-surgeon, or physician assistant? Specifically, what is this individual’s role in the surgery?

4. Will you be in the surgery the entire time, and if not, what parts of the procedure will you not be present?

5. I am sure that you have had some complications or at the very least some unsatisfactory outcomes over the course of your career – how do you handle such outcomes?

6. How many dural leaks do you get per 100 cases? Is it one, ten or more?

7. Do you utilize intraoperative neuromonitoring? Do you utilize Stealth Navigation technology and an O-arm when placing instrumentation?

8. Would you be willing to allow me to speak with 3 patients who have had a similar surgery, perhaps from a specific period of time?

9. Will you be going out of town or unavailable for any reason within several weeks of my surgery? If so, what surgeon do you have covering your patients if there should be a delayed complication requiring a spine surgeon’s expertise?

10. How many times have you performed this procedure?

11. How many years have you been practicing spine surgery?

12. Do you collect data for research and/or to track your patient outcomes, complications, etc..?

13. Do you work with specific anesthesiologists? In the anesthesia group contracted with the hospital, would you be able to recommend one over another, or is it possible for me to research the anesthesia providers and request a specific one?

14. What is your fusion rate for lumbar surgeries?

15. What is your take on bone Morphogenic protein for fusions in the cervical and lumbar spines?

16. What do you think about artificial discs? In the neck? In the lower back?

17. How do you determine if a spine surgeon is any good?
What is the difference between a spine surgeon and a neurosurgeon for the spine?

18. What are the questions I should ask the surgeon before getting spine surgery?"

This is brilliant. Total respect for Dr. Corenman. Don is the Gold Standard in the successful treatment of the spine.

-Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776

Thank you for your kind words!

A nice client/friend just gave me this today:

"Do to an encounter with a bad employer Don was able to get me cash. I won my case because my employer lied and I proved it in court - justice served. If your getting screwed by an evil employer - call Don. -Tim"

Thank you Tim! Although I can nor promise any result in any case I really appreciate the kind words. If you need help in with your claim for Colorado Workers' Compensation - Call me - 24/7/265 -Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776

(970) 947-1776

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of peace.

Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr., January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) 



Call me – Don Kaufman with any questions concerning Colorado Workers’ Compensation Law!  (970) 947-1776

Work related accidents happen people - be careful today!

If you need help after your work related injury in Colorado call me - Don Kaufman - 24/7 (970) 947-1776

Oil and gas truck crashes into creek near Rifle

Ryan Hoffman

A large diesel truck ended up in the Beaver Creek south of Rifle Monday.

A large diesel truck that ended up in the Beaver Creek south of Rifle after working on oil and gas infrastructure Monday did not contaminate the city’s municipal water system, officials said.

In total, less than 10 gallons of oil and hydraulic fluid spilled from the truck, which was removed from the creek around 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to Chris Bornholdt, emergency manager with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident led the city to shutdown its intake system for the Beaver Creek water treatment plant — one of two treatment plants that supply potable water to Rifle customers. The shutdown impacted 13 water users who pull raw water off the line that feeds the Beaver Creek plant.

The reaction is standard procedure anytime there is a potential impact within a watershed, said Robert Burns, operations manager for the city of Rifle utility department. Monitoring conducted at multiple locations did not reveal any contamination, he added.

The city’s intake system remained off Thursday as cleanup crews hired by the trucking company, Cameron International, a company specializing in pressure control technologies for the oil and gas industry, continued the cleanup process on soil and vegetation.

The vehicle, described in a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office press release as a large diesel truck with equipment mounted to a flatbed, was driving down Garfield County Road 317 around 5 p.m. Monday.

The vehicle was being used for conducting pressure testing associated with oil and gas infrastructure, according to a spill report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The area is populated with producing natural gas wells.

Another vehicle was approaching the truck when the driver attempted to move over toward the shoulder, Bornholdt said. The truck got too close to the edge of the road and went over.

Officials estimated the truck rolled approximately 1 ¼ times before coming to a rest. The driver sustained minor injuries.

Excessive speed, a frequent complaint raised during Garfield County Energy Advisory Board meetings, was not a factor in this incident.

“That was not the case,” Bornholdt said, adding the truck was going no more than 5 mph.

Tom VonDette, a rancher who serves as the resident representation for the Taughenbaugh Mesa area on the energy advisory board, said he was still unsure of many of the details Thursday.

Although he was one of the 13 users whose raw water access was cut off, the impact was minimal because VonDette has a nearby well that he could pull water from for his cattle. Some of the others did not have that luxury and were more irritated, he said, adding that the notification process could have been better.

Burns said Cameron, the company whose truck went into the creek, made arrangements to supply water to the impacted users.

Bornholdt, who credited Cameron and the cleanup company for taking the initiative in the matter, said the situation could have been worse. Oil and hydraulic fluid are relatively light fluids compared to diesel fuel, which would have sunk into the soils much quicker — complicating cleanup efforts.

He said he expected the cleanup operation to wrap up Friday afternoon.

Contact us today! 

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Amendment 69 - What do you think?

Amendment 69 might be losing.  What do you think?  Please see below!  -Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776

ColoradoCare / Amendment 69 Voter Opinion Survey

Amendment 69 Survey Results

Magellan Strategies today released the results of a live landline and cell phone survey of 500 likely general election voters in Colorado. The interviews were conducted August 29th to 31st and the survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.38% at the 95 percent confidence interval.

Survey Findings

The survey finds strong opposition to Amendment 69, the ColoradoCare universal healthcare plan. Among all respondents, 27% would vote yes and approve the amendment, 65% would vote no and reject it, and 8% of voters are undecided. Intensity is very strong among voters who oppose the amendment, with 45% of respondents saying they definitely intend to vote no. Only 10% of respondents definitely intend to vote yes. Not surprisingly, support for Amendment 69 is strongest among Democrats and voters aged 18 to 34. However, slightly more Democrats oppose the amendment than support it, 45% to 41% respectively. Among all voters aged 18 to 34, 40% support it and 59% oppose it. The following table shows the Amendment 69 ballot test by voter subgroup.


Opposition to Amendment 69 Has Increased Since January

Since our Amendment 69 survey in January, voter opposition has increased by 15 points from 50% to 65%. Support for the amendment has also declined 16 points, going from 43% to 27%. These findings are not that surprising considering Colorado’s history of rejecting large tax increases. We believe the amendment asks too much from Colorado voters by asking them to raise their state income tax by 10%. While the dream of universal healthcare may sound appealing to some Colorado voters, two thirds are unwilling to pay up for it. With more than 60 days until Election Day, and five weeks until ballots are mailed out on October 17th, this survey indicates it is very unlikely that Amendment 69 will be approved by voters.

Survey Weighting Decisions

The survey results are weighted to reflect the age, gender, and party turnout demographics of the 2012 Presidential election in Colorado. While we do think the 2016 voter turnout demographics in Colorado could be different than 2012, we think it is too early to quantify a drop in voter turnout intensity by party or age group. We also believe there are strong arguments to be made that Donald Trump’s candidacy could depress some Republican voters from casting a ballot. However, there is also a plausible argument to be made that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is struggling to motivate and inspire some Democrats and younger voters to cast a ballot. The truth is until ballots are mailed out on October 17th, we will not know if there is a measurable drop in voter turnout by age group or party.

Survey Sample

The survey sample was randomly drawn from a Colorado voter file among households containing at least one registered voter. This survey topline and crosstab results are included in this document. Any questions regarding this survey or our methodology should be directed to David Flaherty. He can be reached at 303-861-8585 or by email at

Survey Commissioned By

This survey and the Amendment 69 ballot question was not commissioned or paid for by any issue committee, campaign, individual, or independent expenditure group.

About Magellan Strategies

Magellan Strategies offers a wide array of services to candidate campaigns, ballot issue campaigns, government relations firms, trade associations and local and county governments. Our services include polling, survey research, focus groups, voter data mining, voter data analysis and campaign consulting and management. Our offices are located in Louisville, Colorado. To learn more about our company please visit or call 303-861-8585.

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Godfather of Colorado Workers' Comp Ralph Ogden speaks on Amendment 69

Employers will save 59 percent of Workers’ Comp premiums with ColoradoCare.

by Ralph Ogden

Note: This is in response to recent opinion writing to decry Amendment 69, ColoradoCare, by Pinnacol Assurance Chief Executive Officer Philip Kalin.

In writing his opposition to Amendment 69 (ColoradoCare),Pinnacol executive Phil Kalin suggests that health providers outside its network of hand-picked physicians somehow care less about curing and relieving symptoms of injured workers than those inside its network.

Actually, ColoradoCare will benefit Colorado providers (who do in fact, tend to follow the Hippocratic Oath) in two important ways. First, they will be paid for treating work-related injuries and illnesses at the same rate as providers who treat non-work related problems, rather than the steeply discounted rates set in the Division of Workers’ Compensation fee schedules. Second, providers will no longer be required to keep separate sets of billing records for treating workers who are injured on the job. Thus, more providers will be willing to treat injured workers. The General Assembly can still require providers to provide employers and compensation insurers with copies of their treatment notes and periodic reports about the worker’s progress towards Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

In its 2015 annual report, Pinnacol reported reserves of $935,298,000 at the end of the year, an increase of more than $87 million over 2014. It also had net income of $98,571,000 in 2015. In the last few years, Pinnacol has unsuccessfully sought permission from The General Assembly to cease being a political subdivision of the state and become like every other for-profit insurer, and to expand its operations into neighboring states. Pinnacol isn’t subject to administrative control by any state agency or officer. The governor appoints its board.

ColoradoCare–a nonprofit cooperative owned by all Coloradans with an elected board of trustees–will ensure medical care for all for less and be accountable to all Coloradans.

Medical expenses account for approximately 59% of every dollar spent from workers’ compensation premiums. Since ColoradoCare will assume responsibility for these expenses, all workers’ compensation premiums, including Pinnacol’s, should decrease by this same 59% figure.

According to Pinnacol’s 2015 annual report, it collected $615,733,000 in premiums that year. Reducing this figure by 59% means that with ColoradoCare, policy holders will pay $363,282,470 less in workers’ compensation premiums for the same or better medical coverage they have now.

The remaining $252,450,530 Pinnacol collects would be used to pay temporary disability and permanent impairment benefits.

With ColoradoCare’s passage, part of the General Assembly’s task will be to insure the continuation of a fair system for qualified, Level II physicians to determine permanent impairment ratings. Furthermore, MMI determinations by a treating physician could continue to be challenged by means of an Independent Medical Examination (IME),just as they are now. These procedural safeguards for employers would remain.

Having ColoradoCare pay for medical care for injured workers will insure that all workers receive adequate and immediate medical care, even when there is a dispute over whether the injury or illness is compensable. It will eliminate conflicts between workers’ compensation insurers, who claim that the injury or illness did not arise out of and in the course of employment, and health insurers, who claim that it did. These conflicts often arise in cases such as carpel tunnel syndrome, back injuries, falls, vision problems, heart attacks, and cancers. They also arise in disputes over whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor. Workers who in the past had no health insurance and whose compensation carrier denied compensability will have coverage. This insures that they will get the treatment they need and will return to work as quickly as possible, thus saving employers money resulting from sick leave.

Finally, by allowing all Colorado residents to choose their own primary care providers, these providers can effectively integrate treatment for work-related injuries and illnesses with regular preventive care — something that Pinnacol is already doing (by coordinating treatment of injured workers with at least one private health insurer) and seems to endorse.

Because compensation insurers remain liable for temporary disability and permanent impairment benefits, they will have the same incentive to help employers maintain safe workplaces.

Ralph Ogden is an attorney who edited the workers’ compensation column for the Colorado Lawyer, the journal of the Colorado Bar Association, from 1993 until his retirement in 2012. He authored over forty articles on workers’ compensation issues. He also represented workers who were injured on the job during this period. He also chaired the committee that drafted Amendment 69.

Does big business have an irrational fear of Amendment 69? If he hates it this much is it good?

Treasurer rails against Amendment 69 health care issue

Amendment 69 would be a 'time bomb,' Stapleton says

By Jeff Stahla

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, right, discusses Amendment 69, a state health care system initiative, with Carol Salter, a physician integration director for Banner Health, Northern Colorado, during a luncheon Monday at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Colorado would face a diminished economic future if voters choose to approve Amendment 69 in November, the state's treasurer told community and health care leaders Monday in Loveland.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton told attendees of an event at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce that Amendment 69, which would create a single-payer health insurance program in the state, has unlimited costs and too many unintended consequences.

"I think it will have a disastrous impact almost immediately on Colorado," he said.

Stapleton, a Republican, is a co-chairman of the advocacy group Coloradans for Coloradans, which is seeking to defeat the measure at the polls. The other co-chairman is former Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat.

Advocates for the amendment, ColoradoCare, are proposing an overhaul of the state health system to provide 100 percent coverage. Funding would be through payroll taxes on employers and some types of employees, and advocates say that because health insurance premiums will no longer be required from individuals, it will save the state money in the long run. They point to countries such as Canada and Germany as examples of success with a single-payer system.

Stapleton said such comparisons are not valid, however, because they are comparing a country with a state. For physicians in Colorado, reduced payments or increased bureaucracy could prompt them to move to another state, which is an option not available at the country level.

Thompson School District Superintendent Stan Scheer noted the amendment, if passed, could have unintended consequences in the state, as well. If the state started to offer a single-payer health care program to all residents, it could attract new residents who have higher-level health-care needs or lower levels of income, both of which could strain school district and state budgets.

"If you thought legalized marijuana brought people to Colorado, wait until you see free health care," he said.

Stapleton called his outreach efforts on Monday part of a "grass-tops" campaign to reach out to community and business leaders. Last week, he campaigned across the Western Slope and the Interstate 70 corridor. He told attendees Monday that greater fundraising and outreach will be needed to reach millennials, who have shown via polls to support the amendment more than other demographics. He acknowledged that there's not too many voters under 35 years old at the service club and chambers of commerce meetings he attends.

He said the uncertainty about Amendment 69 and other constitutional changes proposed on the ballot has affected Colorado's bond rating — when it should be AAA, it's only AA because of the ease with which major fiscal policy can be written into the state's governing document.

"Amendment 69 is an economic time bomb," he said.

Jeff Stahla: 970-635-3691,

A message from Pinnacol Assurance

Viewpoint: Amendment 69 would gut Colorado’s stable workers’ comp system

Aug 8, 2016, 6:05am MDT

Phil Kalin President and CEO, Pinnacol Assurance

Colorado’s workers’ compensation system is one of the best in the nation because of the way it effectively balances reasonable premiums for employers and fair benefits for injured workers. The system helps retain business and lure new employers with its stability and financial security, making it a feather in the state economy’s cap.

But that will be threatened if the ballot initiative for Amendment 69, or ColoradoCare, is approved by voters in November. No doubt every Coloradan will be affected by the change, but the impact on employers, injured workers, and the entire workers’ comp system cannot be underestimated.

As an insurer that provides workers’ comp exclusively, why is Pinnacol concerned about the health care system? Under current law, workers’ comp insurance covers the health care needs of injured workers and replaces their lost wages, or indemnity, for as long as they are out of work. But by bringing the medical payments of workers’ comp under its umbrella, ColoradoCare would strip injured workers of a highly effective medical care system.

The system ensures every injured worker receives high quality care in a timely way from a physician accredited in occupational medicine, and gives them opportunity to safely return to work.

Workers’ comp is extremely complex, which is why California and Vermont – the only other states to seriously explore (and ultimately back away from) single-payer health care –excluded workers’ comp from their proposals.

For example, the director of health care reform in Vermont said that including workers’ comp in its single-payer plan could:

  • Increase overall costs to the employer
  • Increase administrative burdens
  • Create regulatory conflicts
  • Create coverage issues

Supporters of Amendment 69 say that integrating workers’ comp into ColoradoCare will save Colorado businesses money because their workers’ comp premiums will go down. But any workers’ comp savings will be eroded quickly by lower worker productivity and increased wage replacement costs. That’s because ColoradoCare won’t have mechanisms in place to do all the things many workers’ comp insurers do, like work with employers to keep their employees safe and minimize the potential for injury, and work with doctors to help injured workers get back to work in a timely and safe way. Even things like paying for injured workers to travel to and from doctor appointments are not accounted for in ColoradoCare.

And that’s not the only way ColoradoCare would diminish service and increase costs. Currently, when a workplace injury is caused by a third party, workers’ comp insurers can seek to recover funds from that third party through a process called subrogation. But Amendment 69 would give ColoradoCare first rights to subrogate, weakening workers’ comp insurers’ ability to collect for lost wages. That would result in millions of dollars of otherwise recoverable funds not being refunded to Colorado employers every year.

Amendment 69 also does a disservice to Colorado employers because, by leaving work comp insurers with only wage replacement, it eliminates insurers’ ability to manage costs. That would lead to many insurers leaving the state, destabilizing the entire system. Employers will pay the price.

As a political subdivision of the state, Pinnacol cannot donate corporate funds to campaign for or against a ballot initiative. However, we can take a position on an issue such as this that directly affects us, and our board has voted to oppose Amendment 69.

Colorado has proven it can make workers’ comp work for employers and injured employees – let’s not shake it up with the cost and uncertainty that would come with ColoradoCare.

Phil Kalin is president and CEO of Pinnacol Assurance, a state-chartered company which supplies policies to about 57 percent of Colorado businesses. He can be reached at 303-361-4891, or by email,

What do you think?

Donald J. Kaufman, Attorney at Law

(970) 947-1776

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America is buying coal from Russia as she shuts down domestic production.

As we are closing down mines all over the United States - America is buying "Russian Coal?" I stand with the American Coal Miner! If any of our coal mining family needs help please call me - Don Kaufman - 24/7 - at (970) 947-1776 - Shout out to Craig, Meeker, and Paonia!

Hungry U.S. Power Plant Turns to Russia for Coal Shipment

Mario Parker 

July 16, 2014 — 2:30 PM MDT

A driver loads a truck with coking coal during mining operations at the Neryungrinsky mine in Neryungri, Russia. Russian coal is valued by power producers because it’s low in sulfur, enabling plants that haven’t installed equipment to minimize emissions to use the cheaper fuel. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/BloombergWhen New Hampshire’s largest utility needed to rebuild coal supplies after the past frigid winter, it turned to Russia rather than Appalachia in the U.S. Northeast or Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

The Doric Victory, a bulk carrier the length of two football fields, transported the fuel almost 4,000 miles (6,436 kilometers) from Riga, Latvia, last month to Public Service of New Hampshire’s Schiller power plant in Portsmouth, a 150-megawatt facility that’s produced electricity since 1952.

Utilities in the U.S. are scrambling for coal, on pace to increase imports 26 percent this year, as railroad bottlenecks slow deliveries and electricity demand climbs with an improving economy. Russia, the world’s third-largest exporter of the fuel, will boost shipments 3.9 percent to 106 million metric tons this year, IHS Energy forecasts, part of President Vladimir Putin’s plan to expand Russia’s role in the global coal market.

“Everyone’s aware that a number of plants have low stockpiles, so you hear Russian coal and they say, ‘Oh wow, people must really be desperate,’” James Stevenson, Houston-based director of North American coal at IHS, said in a July 8 telephone interview.

The New Hampshire utility declined to disclose the amount of coal that it purchased from Russia. U.S. bill of lading data show that 38,500 metric tons of steam coal were delivered.

Russian Coal

“A shipment of coal was contracted from Russia that met our operational and economic needs,” was all the utility was willing to say in an e-mail.

U.S.-Russia relations are at a post-Cold War low after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea. The U.S. and European Union have imposed sanctions on companies and individuals tied to Putin’s inner circle and are considering further penalties.

The Russian fuel appeals to power producers because it emits less sulfur than other coals, making it easier to comply with environmental rules, and has a high heat content, meaning it can produce more power per measure of fuel, Stevenson said.

In 2012, Putin pledged to spend $120 billion in public and private funds to expand Russia’s coal mining capacity and boost exports through 2030. The country has the second-largest reserves behind the U.S., government data show.

Russia’s abundant supply of natural gas, also used to generate electricity, gives it the ability to flood the seaborne coal market, the U.S. Energy Department says. Exports from Russia have swelled 94 percent from January 2010 through May, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Coal Burning

U.S. utilities burned 30 million tons of coal inventories in the first quarter, EIA data show. March was the coldest for the month since 2002 in the contiguous 48 U.S. states, according to the National Climatic Data center, boosting power demand. In spring, an increase in oil and ethanol transport clogged the railways and slowed efforts by power generators to rebuild supply.

Some utilities have as little as 20 days of reserves, Bill Davison, vice president of thermal coal sales at Alpha Natural Resources Inc., said last month at a conference in New York.

Tennessee Valley Authority temporarily idled the Bull Run plant in May to rebuild supply, Vince Stroud, the company’s director of coal origination, said last month in an interview at the IHS McCloskey Coal USA conference in New York.

Rail Service

Power producers have placed an emphasis on reliability of supply, whether it’s domestic or imported, as they try to increase inventories and navigate spotty rail service, said Frank Kolojeski, director of marketing at Exporting Commodities International Inc., a brokerage in Marlton, New Jersey.

“A lot of companies were reluctant to go out and buy spot coal because they weren’t sure it would get delivered,” he said in a July 2 telephone interview.

The U.S. imported 34 million tons of coal in 2008, a year in which the fuel accounted for 48 percent of electricity generation, government data show. Foreign purchases tumbled to 8.9 million tons by last year as coal’s share of electricity consumption dropped to 39 percent while gas use gained.

Coal buyers, producers and shippers responded to shrinking imports by idling or reallocating equipment, Kolojeski said.

“Everybody had been used to five years of dormancy,” he said. “All of a sudden there was a surge in demand. It caught everybody off guard.”

In December days of coal supply fell below 60 days for the first time since summer 2011, according to the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

Rising Imports

In the first quarter, the most recent period for which data is available, U.S. imports ballooned 71 percent to 2.4 million tons, EIA data show.

Companies in the U.S. are finding bargains because the world is currently oversupplied, Stevenson said. “In some ways the Russian coal was a bird in the hand,” he said.

Thermal coal is used to generate electricity, while the metallurgical variety is needed to forge steel.

Coal at the Australian port of Newcastle, Asia’s benchmark price, is down about 17 percent this year at $69.65 a metric ton. Coal for delivery next year to Northwest Europe is down 11 percent at $77.50. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, prices have increased 5.3 percent to $60.50.

The global seaborne coal market may rise 4.6 percent this year to 997 million metric tons and could reach a record 1 billion tons, the Englewood, Colorado-based information company, estimates. Indonesia is the biggest seller of coal, followed by Australia, according to IHS.

Colombia accounted for 67 percent and Indonesian coal made up 23 percent of U.S. imports in the first quarter, according to EIA. In the lower 48 states, the most foreign shipments have flowed in through Tampa, Florida, followed by Boston, the EIA datashow.

“If you are on the Atlantic Coast, you have a chance to buy imported coal,” Stevenson said. “If you’re a utility you have to act now and throughout the second half of the year in case there’s a colder winter than last year.”

Our Office Manager - Diana Kaufman

Our fearless leader climbing hundreds of feet above the ground for fun.  Tough as nails.  If you need help - let us help you.  Our team is the best in the world! -Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776

Our People make all the difference.

Meet Eleanor Kaufman.  She is my daughter and has worked at our office since 2008.  She is an advanced student who cares about injured workers.  Our entire team is united in helping injured workers every minute, of every hour of every day.  If you need help call me and allow our team to go to work for you twenty four hours a day.  -Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776

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Industrial injury in the gas field?

If you need help call me!

-Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776

Over 450,000 workers were employed in the oil and gas extraction and support industries in 2011 (Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages). These workers are engaged in many different industrial processes needed to successfully drill and service a well. These processes frequently require the use of specialized equipment and specialized work crews.

From 2003 to 2010, 823 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job-a fatality rate seven times greater than the rate for all U.S. industries (Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries). This database also reports similar fatality rates since at least the early 1990s. Safety and health hazards and dangerous conditions that can result in fatalities for oil and gas workers include:

  • Vehicle Accidents
  • Struck-By/ Caught-In/ Caught-Between
  • Explosions and Fires
  • Falls
  • Confined Spaces
  • Chemical Exposures

The information and resources provided on this web page can help workers and employers identify and eliminate hazards in their workplace. The web page introduces applicable OSHA regulatory requirements, as well as industry standards and guidance aimed at identifying, preventing, and controlling exposure to hazards.

Employers must protect the safety and health of workers involved in oil and gas operations according to:

How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?

Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.

OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

Small businesses may contact OSHA's free On-site Consultation services funded by OSHA to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites. To contact free consultation services, go to OSHA's On-site Consultationwebpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.

Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.

If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.

If you need help call me!

-Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776

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Colorado Workers can now demand their "personnel files!"

New Colorado Law Requires Employee Access to Personnel Files

Ogletree Deakins

USA June 28 2016

On June 10, 2016, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 16-1432. Effective January 1, 2017, the new law will require private sector employers to allow employees to access their personnel files at least once annually. The law does not apply to public sector employers (whose employees already have access to such records through the Colorado Open Records Act).

Under the new law, employers must permit current and former employees to inspect and obtain a copy of any part of their personnel files at a time convenient to both the employer and employee.  A former employee may make one inspection of his or her personnel file after termination of employment. Employers may require access to personnel files to take place in the presence of a person responsible for maintaining personnel files or another employee designated by the employer. Employers are also permitted to require the employee or former employee to pay the reasonable cost of copying any part of the personnel file.

Definition of “Personnel File”

The new law includes a provision defining the term “personnel file” as “the personnel records of an employee…that are used or have been used to determine the employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, or employment termination or other disciplinary action.”

Under the law, a “personnel file” does not include the following categories of documents: (1) documents required by state or federal law to be maintained in a separate file; (2) confidential reports from the employee’s previous employer; (3) documents pertaining to an active criminal investigation; (4) documents pertaining to an active disciplinary investigation; (5) documents pertaining to an active investigation by a regulatory agency; and (6) documents identifying a person who made a confidential accusation (as determined by the employer) against the employee requesting the personnel file.

What the New Law Does Not Do

The law explicitly states that it does not: (1) create a private cause of action; (2) require employers to create, maintain, or retain personnel files of employees or former employees; or (3) create any new record retention requirements. In addition, the law does not apply to financial institutions chartered and supervised under state or federal law, including banks, trust companies, savings institutions, and credit unions.

Next Steps for Employers 

To prepare for the January 1, 2017 effective date of the new law, employers may want to consider taking the following actions:

  • Establish a protocol for compliance with the new law.
  • Educate all managers regarding the requirements of the new law and the processes by which the company will channel requests to access personnel files.
  • Update employee handbooks to reference the availability of personnel file review.
  • Educate appropriate staff regarding documents that should not be included in personnel files pursuant to applicable state or federal law (e.g., Forms I-9, medical information covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, letters of reference, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or Colorado Civil Rights Division complaints or charges, and workers’ compensation material).
  • Ensure that documents excluded from the law’s definition of “personnel file” are removed from or no longer included in personnel files.
  • If not already in place, consider implementing a recordkeeping policy to confirm that employment records are kept as long as legally required by state and federal record retention laws and then, if not needed for other purposes, appropriately deleted and/or destroyed.

Ogletree Deakins - Steven R. Reid and David D. Powell

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-Don Kaufman

(970)  947-1776

Supremes come to the rescue!

Supreme Court comes to the rescue of our firefighters and shifts the burden to the insurance companies. I defend the rights of all of our first responders. -Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776

Colorado Supreme Court: Workers’ Compensation “Firefighter’s Statute” Shifts Burden of Causation to Employer
Colorado Supreme Court: Workers’ Compensation “Firefighter’s Statute” Shifts Burden of Causation to Employer
May 6, 2016 By CBA-CLE Staff Leave a Comment

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in City of Littleton v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on Monday, May 2, 2016.
Workers’ Compensation—Firefighters—Statutory Presumptions.
In this case, the Colorado Supreme Court addressed the presumption created in the “firefighter statute,” C.R.S. § 8-41-209, of the Workers’ Compensation Act of Colorado, C.R.S. §§ 8-40-101 to 8-47-209. The court held that the presumption in C.R.S. § 8-41-209(2)(a) relieves the claimant firefighter of the burden to prove that his cancer “result[ed] from his or her employment as a firefighter” for purposes of establishing under C.R.S. § 8-41-209(1) that his condition is a compensable “occupational disease” under the Workers’ Compensation Act. However, C.R.S. § 8-41-209(2) does not establish a conclusive, or irrebuttable, presumption. Instead, the firefighter statute shifts the burden of persuasion to the firefighter’s employer to show, by a preponderance of the medical evidence, that the firefighter’s condition “did not occur on the job.”
The court held that an employer can meet its burden by establishing the absence of either general or specific causation. Specifically, an employer can show, by a preponderance of the medical evidence, either: (1) that a firefighter’s known or typical occupational exposures are not capable of causing the cause of the claimant’s condition or type of cancer at issue; or (2) that the firefighter’s employment did not cause the firefighter’s particular cancer where, for example, the claimant firefighter was not exposed to the substance or substances that are known to cause the firefighter’s condition or impairment, or where the medical evidence renders it more probable that the cause of the claimant’s condition or impairment was not job-related.

We fight for our first responders!

-Don Kaufman

(970) 947-1776

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Off Topic - but way cool! "Colorado mom pried mountain lion’s jaws off son’s head!" North of Aspen, west of Vail women are just tough!

Of all the “mothers” I know north of Aspen, west of Vail - this is “par for the course.” Gentlemen fathers - you all rock – but you do not extricate your kids head from a lions mouth rock! Being a mom is a special kind of badass. Our wives do this every day! I am so very proud I married one of the Western Colorado Moms, and am humbly a friend to the rest of you ladies. Please never mistake me for a rogue lion!

Don Kaufman (970) 947-1776

GPI - 6-19-16 Colorado mom pried mountain lion’s jaws off son’s head

The carcass of the mountain lion that was shot after attacking a child in the front yard of his home below Woody Creek on Friday night. Note the sheriff's deputy's boot at the bottom of the picture, which provides an idea of the lion's smaller size.

The mother of a 5-year-old boy attacked by a mountain lion Friday night reached into the animal’s mouth and pried her son’s head from its jaws, a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy said Saturday.

“She was able to pry the cat’s jaws open,” said Deputy Michael Buglione. “She’s a hero.”

The boy was helicoptered from Aspen Valley Hospital to Children’s Hospital in Denver on Friday night in fair condition with injuries to his face, head and neck, according to Buglione and a news release from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. A spokeswoman at Children’s Hospital said Saturday she was not authorized to release any details of his condition.

Meanwhile, federal and state wildlife officials tracked down and killed a second mountain lion early Saturday morning that was seen in the vicinity of the attack in the front yard of a home on Lower River Road below Woody Creek.

Trackers with hound dogs found the second lion about 2 a.m. Saturday, approximately 600 yards from the scene of the attack on the boy, according to a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The first report of the attack came from the boy’s father, who called 911 about 8 p.m. Friday while en route to Aspen Valley Hospital with the child, according to the release. That call was “quickly disconnected,” the release states.

Buglione said the car with the child inside passed another deputy on his way to the hospital at a very high rate of speed. By the time deputies made it to the hospital, the father, boy and the mother were already there, he said.

Buglione and the other deputy entered the hospital’s trauma room and saw the child at that time. He said the boy had a “very deep laceration” on his right cheek, his right eye was swollen shut and part of his scalp at the top of his head was pulled back.

The boy’s injuries did not look life-threatening, he said.

“He was awake and conscious and talking with his mother,” Buglione said.

At that time, he spoke with the father, who told them he’d just returned from a run after the attack occurred.

Buglione later spoke with the mother, who told him she was inside the house and the two boys had been playing outside when she heard the older boy screaming, he said. The older boy said his younger brother had been attacked by a fox, Buglione said.

The mother ran outside and saw the mountain lion hunched over her son, he said.

“The boy was completely under the cat,” Buglione said.

The mother ran to her son, pulled one of the lion’s paws off the boy and saw that the animal had the child’s head completely in its mouth, he said. The mother then reached into the lion’s mouth, pried its jaws off the boy’s head, scooped him up and ran away, Buglione said.

The cat did not chase the mother as she ran away with the child, he said.

“It wasn’t a big cat,” Buglione said. “Had it been a 110-pound lion – which I’ve seen around here – this would have been a much different story.”

The mother received injuries to her hands and legs, according to the news release. She was treated and released from Aspen Valley Hospital in good condition, according to Ginny Dyche, hospital spokeswoman.

In between talking to the father and mother, Buglione said he and another deputy met a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer at the scene of the attack and spotted the cat under the tree where the father said it would be. It was lying amid a clutter of debris, including toys, bicycles and a wheelbarrow, he said.

The two deputies and the Forest Service officer were 10 to 12 feet from the lion and it didn’t move or make any noises, Buglione said.

“At the time, the assumption was it was sick or injured and needed to be put down,” he said.

So the Forest Service officer killed it with a shotgun, he said. The animal did not look it had been injured, Buglione said. Deputies put the animal’s body in a bag for Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, who will test it for plague and rabies, he said.

A spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the fact that the cat didn’t move from the site of the attack wasn’t necessarily odd behavior and that neither of the two dead lions showed signs of sickness or injury.

“There’s no way of knowing why the lions remained in the area,” said Mike Porras.

He said officials received a report of a mountain lion sighting just before the attack, while witnesses also reported seeing two mountain lions in the area around that time. That prompted the hunt for second lion that ended about 2 a.m., Saturday, Porras said.

Both lions appeared to be eight to nine months old, he said. The bodies of both animals were taken to a parks and wildlife facility in Fort Collins, where necropsies were to be performed, he said. The results of those examinations were not available Saturday, he said.

CPW said in a news release that the last known lion attack on a human in Colorado occurred in July 2015 when a young lion attacked a man as he fished along the Coffee Pot Road, north of Dotsero. The man received scratches and bites on his back and was treated and released from a local clinic. The lion in that incident, described as a small, yearling male, was tracked and killed.

CPW officials have cautioned the public that lion sightings are increasing across Colorado, likely due to a growing human population encroaching on lion habitat in conjunction with a robust lion population in the state.

email me now - Don Kaufman

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Have a happy & safe holiday! Don't drink & drive!

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and Alpine Bank present the 119th Annual Strawberry Days Festival June 17-19, 2016. Make it an annual tradition & join us in Glenwood Springs, Colorado the 3rd weekend in June every year for Strawberry Days! 

he festival features live music & main stage entertainment, a FamilyFest area with interactive, entertaining and creative experiences for the kids; a Fine Arts and Crafts Fair, food court, an old-fashioned carnival, a parade down Grand Avenue and of course, we’ll serve FREE strawberries and ice cream on Saturday after the parade, just like we’ve been doing for the past century.
 - See more at:

If you need legal help with your claim for Colorado Workers' Compensation call me 27/7 at (970) 947-1776

Work Related Back Pain?


Preventing back injuries is a major workplace safety challenge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. Further, one-fourth of all compensation indemnity claims involve back injuries, costing industry billions of dollars on top of the pain and suffering borne by employees.

Moreover, though lifting, placing, carrying, holding and lowering are involved in manual materials handling (the principal cause of compensable work injuries) the BLS survey shows that four out of five of these injuries were to the lower back, and that three out of four occurred while the employee was lifting.

No approach has been found for totally eliminating back injuries caused by lifting, though it is felt that a substantial portion can be prevented by an effective control program and ergonomic design of work tasks.

OSHA is considering ways to help employers and employees reduce these injuries. The agency requested public comments October 2, 1986 to help it develop either guidelines or regulations for manual lifting.

The agency is looking at both major categories of methods for preventing lifting injuries--administrative controls and engineering controls. The former includes carefully selecting and/or training workers so they can safely perform lifting tasks. Engineering controls attempt to redesign a job so lifting becomes less hazardous.

Suggested administrative controls include:

  • Strength testing of existing workers, which one study showed can prevent up to one-third of work-related injuries by discouraging the assignment of workers to jobs that exceed their strength capabilities.

    Training employees to utilize lifting techniques that place minimum stress on the lower back.

  • Physical conditioning or stretching programs to reduce the risk of muscle strain.

Suggested engineering controls include:

  • A reduction in the size or weight of the object lifted. The parameters include maximum allowable weights for a given set of task requirements; the compactness of a package; the presence of handles, and the stability of the package being handled.

    Adjusting the height of a pallet or shelf. Lifting which occurs below knee height or above shoulder height is more strenuous than lifting between these limits. Obstructions which prevent an employee's body contact with the object being lifted also generally increase the risk of injury.

  • Installation of mechanical aids such as pneumatic lifts, conveyors, and/or automated materials handling equipment.

In a recent study it was determined that up to one-third of compensable back injuries could be prevented through better job design (ergonomics).

Other factors include frequency of lifting, duration of lifting activities, and type of lifting, as well as individual variables such as age, sex, body size, state of health, and general physical fitness.

The approaches suggested include the NIOSH Work Practices Guide for Manual Lifting* employing an equation using horizontal location, vertical location, vertical travel distance and lifting frequency. Another approach would put a maximum weight limit for any single lift, or a load-moment limit which would consider the effect of the distance of the load from the worker's body. Tables of maximum weights for different percentiles of male and female workers have also been proposed.

Call me if you need help!  -Don Kaufman

(970) 947-1776

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