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Bill to Ease Some Workers’ Comp Penalties Faces Tough Road Ahead

Workers’ compensation provides important protection for employees and if a worker gets injured on-the-job, he or she should contact a Colorado Springs injury law firm to find out how to pursue a claim for benefits.

Because workers’ comp is so important to ensuring that employees are provided with essential benefits if they get hurt at work, it is imperative that employers have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Under Colorado’s current law there are very substantial fines in place for employers who fail to fulfill coverage requirements. Companies caught without required coverage for the first time could face penalties of up to $250 daily. If companies are repeat violators, fines could total $250 to $500 per day.

This has driven some companies — particularly small businesses – into bankruptcy, sometimes for what they claim to be inadvertent violations. The law doesn’t allow discretion when companies claim mistakes in obtaining coverage, so the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment worked with a state representative to craft a bill that would allow leaders in the Division of Workers’ Compensation more flexibility in the fines that are administered. The bill, however, faces a tough road.

Bill to Ease Penalties for Workers’ Compensation Law Violators Faces an Uncertain Future

The proposed bill to change the workers’ compensation laws to provide discretion in terms of penalties would not only offer more leeway to division leaders in imposing fair consequences, but it would also create a new fund to cover costs for employees who get hurt while working at a job where their employer does not have proper coverage. This new fund would be paid for by fines collected from companies that fail to comply with coverage rules.

Those in favor of the legislation argue that it’s necessary to ensure excessive fines aren’t imposed.  There have been numerous high profile cases in recent years that have resulted in fines being successfully challenged. In fact, the Colorado Court of Appeals actually found one fine to be so excessive it was a violation of the state’s constitution.  Proponents of changing the law argue that if the bill is not passed, more excessive fines are likely to occur.

However, there are also many vocal opponents, including from the Workers’ Compensation Coalition. This Coalition is made up of a group of businesses who believe repeat offenders would be given too much leniency if the bill were to be passed.

The bill passed the house by a vote of 37 to 28, but it is still unclear whether it will be signed into law.  The bill will be headed next to the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee in the Republican-controlled senate, which Biz Journals indicates is often a place where bills passed by the democratic minority end up languishing.

Whether the law changes or not, companies should make it a point to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage so there is money to pay for losses injured workers experience. A Colorado Springs injury law firm can provide assistance to injured workers in making a claim for those benefits after an on-the-job injury occurs. Victims should get legal help as soon as possible to ensure their right to benefits is preserved.

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