Colorado’s workers just got a lot more protection, and uninsured employers have been put on notice.
Earlier this week, Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1119, the Uninsured Employer Act, into law. The law establishes a state fund for injured workers of uninsured employers – paid for by the civil penalties, fines, and other revenue from the Colorado workers’ comp budget.
Workers’ Comp Fund is Stronger with HB 1119
While punishments already existed for employers who avoided paying workers’ compensation insurance, this law guarantees that money generated by those penalties will be used for injured employees, rather than being funneled straight into the general fund.
“It is the intent of the General Assembly to require employers to maintain workers’ compensation insurance and that the requirement be vigorously enforced in order to protect compliant employers from those who would gain a competitive advantage at the expense of the safety and well-being of employees,” the bill reads.
According to the legislation, the fund would pay for “medical benefits, funeral benefits, temporary disability, death benefits, permanent total disability, permanent partial disability, and disfigurement.”
All Stakeholders Are Included
“When employers do not maintain workers’ compensation insurance it leaves their employees in a devastating position if they get injured on the job,” Burg Simpson shareholder Nick D. Fogel explained.
“Not having workers’ compensation insurance means that injured workers have no ability to access medical or financial benefits. I sincerely hope this bill provides the much-needed outlet for injured workers to access benefits when injured while working for unprincipled employers who violate the law by not having the proper workers’ compensation coverage.”
The new law also establishes The Uninsured Employer Board, comprised of the director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and four gubernatorial appointees – each of which is expected to represent either the employers, labor groups, insurance carriers, or the workers’ compensation attorneys representing injured workers. The board would then manage the fund, including the establishment of benefit rates, claim adjustment, as well as rules and procedures adopted.
Department of Labor Spokesman Bill Thoennes praised the bill in an interview with the Denver Post.
“Essentially in the past, if a worker was to be injured, the worker was left in a very precarious position,” Thoennes told the paper. “If an employer didn’t have insurance, a number of problems would come up for the employee. Unpaid medical bills and other complications arose. With the signing of this bill, employees can get what is needed even if the employer doesn’t have it.”
If you have been hurt while on the job in Colorado – regardless of whether your employer has insurance – it is imperative you contact an experienced Colorado work comp attorney at Burg Simpson by calling 303-792-5595 or fill out a Free Case Evaluation form with your case details now.