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Colorado workers' comp law imperfect, but vitally important

OK, it perhaps needs tweaking, but certainly nothing more than that.

A recent Denver Post article quite reasonably points out that one provision of the Colorado workers' compensation law is perhaps a bit marred and in need of a second look and some likely adjustment.

What has drawn the publication's attention is "surprisingly hefty fines for lapsed workers' compensation insurance coverage," which have yielded some starkly adverse outcomes in select cases for state business owners

Here's a case in point: A student-run nonprofit group at the University of Colorado failed to keep its coverage consistently intact and, with back-and-forth periods of lapsing over a number of years, got slapped with a $224,000 fine.

And there are other similar cases.

No reasonable person would question that the penalty for lapsed coverage might seem unduly harsh in some instances, and there should of course be an in-place mechanism through which injustice can be corrected. The Post mentions such a need.

At the same time, though, it underscores the critically important need to have a viable workers' comp law on the books, noting that, "Protecting workers is a serious responsibility, and the penalties for dodging it should be tough."

If they're not, bad things happen. Key, of course, is that workers who suffer work-related accidents and injuries might find themselves lacking a key safety net and without resources to seek medical assistance and recover lost wages. And a tandem -- and unquestionably pernicious -- result is that, while good-faith employers play by the rules, bad actors "dodge the obligation."

The bottom line regarding Colorado workers' compensation law is both simple and obvious: It must be both tough and fair.

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