How Pinnacol helped this ski instructor navigate the workers' comp claims process and get back on the slopes
Bill, Nordic ski instructor and cattle herdsman
When Bill experienced a serious snowmobile accident and injured his leg at work, he needed fast, specialized care. Below, Bill shares how his claims representative guided him through the workers' compensation claims process to get him back on the slopes.
How did you end up with a workplace injury?
As a ski instructor, I help put on Nordic ski races. At the time of the injury, we were out grooming to put on one of our biggest races of the season. Unfortunately, as we were going over a bridge with the snowmobile, the snow collapsed and we took about a 10-foot tumble straight down into the creek. I hurt my leg pretty bad. I went down on one leg with the snowmobile on top of me, which is about 700 pounds.
We were in the middle of the forest, and we had to get somebody to come pull us out. The saving grace was we were knee-deep in water. So, you know when the doc tells you to elevate and ice? I couldn't elevate it, but I did ice it immediately.
Were you familiar with the workers' comp claims process?
Prior to my injury, I didn't know anything about workers' comp.
How responsive was your Pinnacol workers' comp claims representative?
Within a day, I had contact with my caseworker. I never waited more than an hour to get an answer from my rep. He helped me through the process, explained what would be happening, and kept me on track and informed.
Whether it was email or phone calls, I never waited for more than an hour to get an answer from my rep when I had questions. He was very responsive and gave me the information I needed.
What was the healthcare treatment process like?
After the primary care initial visit, I got a referral to go to an orthopedic specialist. I asked if I could get the best of the best at the Steadman clinic in Vail and there wasn't a problem. I got in, did some rehab, and basically stayed off my leg until surgery.
With COVID there wasn't much we could do, so I just kind of sat it out and waited to get [my knee] repaired. After about four months, I got a brand new knee and was back to work in about six weeks.
Once things opened up, I got the surgery done and started physical therapy within two days.
I did extended physical therapy. Being an athlete, I needed those little minor tweaks. So I got extended for, I guess, another four sessions and got released to go back to work and got my final ok from the local doc and went back to work.
Were there any limitations on your medical treatment?
There were absolutely no issues, no prohibitive costs that kept me from getting back to 100%. It wasn't like, “Oh, well you get three times, and that's it." It was as much as I wanted to go to PT.
How did you feel about going back to work?
It was nice to get a check while being off work, but, you know, I was just focused on getting better and getting back to work. Being injured on a job, when you're part of the team, you feel like you let the team down. You know, one less employee, and that puts the burden on somebody else. So I was just not comfortable with that. But they'll fix you and get you up to speed no matter what it takes.
What advice would you give to a worker who is filing a claim for the first time?
I think you need to take a little bit of ownership in the process. Don't just wait. Because they don't know that you have questions. I had questions and I didn't wait and complain—I called people and emailed them. So I guess that would be the number one—participate, reach out, and find out. I mean, there's a lot to it.
Injured at work? Stay prepared with workers' comp coverage
Work-related injuries and illnesses happen all the time on the job. Workers' compensation benefits and coverage help employees return to work safely and swiftly. Partner with an insurance company you can trust when the going gets rough.
Pinnacol Assurance assumes no responsibility for management or control of customer safety activities. Please ensure your business meets the requirements of all federal, state, and local laws, regulations, or ordinances related to workplace safety.