Workers Comp Cost of Living Adjustment Cases In Colorado

The cost of living adjustment provision in 8-42-111(4) states that: For injuries occurring on and after July 1, 1991, and before July 1, 1994, the average weekly wage of injured employees used for computing compensation paid for awards pursuant to subsection (1) of this section shall be increased by two percent per year effective July 1 of each year, and such increased compensation shall be payable for the subsequent twelve months. The remaining two provisions, taken together, form the benefit cap for permanent total disability benefits. Section 8-42-111(1) provides that for permanent total disability, "the award shall be sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the average weekly wages of the injured employee . . . but not in excess of the weekly maximum benefits specified in this article for injuries causing temporary total disability". In turn, temporary total disability benefits are calculated under 8-42-105(1), which provides that "the employee shall receive sixty-six and two-thirds percent of said employee's average weekly wages . . . not to exceed a maximum of ninety-one percent of the state average weekly wage per week." . In interpreting the cost of living adjustment provision in 8-42-111(4), we must seek to effectuate the legislative intent. In so doing, we apply the rule that words and phrases in statutes should be given their plain and ordinary meanings. If the statutory language is clear and unambiguous, we need not resort to other rules of statutory construction. Snyder Oil Co. v. Embree, 862 P.2d 259 (Colo. 1993). A comprehensive statutory scheme should be construed in a manner which gives consistent, harmonious, and sensible effect to all parts of the statute. Henderson v. RSI, Inc., 824 P.2d 91 (Colo. App. 1991). Thus, when there is an apparent conflict between two statutory sections, we must attempt to harmonize the statutes in order to give effect to the legislative intent of both statutes. Mountain City Meat Co. v. Oqueda, 919 P.2d 246 (Colo. 1996). However, if the statutes cannot be harmonized, the statute enacted later in time controls. Arkansas Valley Seeds, Inc. v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 972 P.2d 695 (Colo. App. 1998).