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New law provides additional protections for Colorado workers

What happens when an employer fails to provide workers' compensation insurance for its employees?

Until now, an injured worker at such an employer was entitled to claim workers' compensation benefits to be paid from the state's general fund. Given the perennial threat of budget deficits, this put Colorado workers in a precarious position.

Colorado law has long given the Division of Workers' Compensation the power to fine an employer $250 for each day it does not provide such coverage for employees, and to actually shut down the employer's operations until the problem is resolved. But that was still not sufficient incentive for some deadbeat employers. Injured workers at those companies faced the prospect of lost wages and of having to pay medical costs themselves.

The law creates a special workers' compensation fund

On June 5, 2017, this problem was rectified, when Governor John Hickenlooper signed H.B. 1119, also known as the Uninsured Employer Act. With the enactment of this law, fines for failing to provide workers' compensation coverage are now paid into a special, dedicated fund from which benefits will be paid. The new law also created the Uninsured Employer Board to manage the fund. The Board will consist of five members - the director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, plus four members appointed by the Governor. These four members will represent the four constituent groups concerned with workers' compensation, namely, employers, insurers, labor groups, and workers' compensation attorneys. In addition, the fund will have the power to determine the amount of the daily fine to be assessed on noncompliant employers. While the new arrangement might not be perfect, it does mark a major step forward in ensuring that injured workers get the medical and disability benefits they deserve.

If you have been injured while working, speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

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