December 20, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Although 2014 is still weeks away, some Colorado lawmakers are not wasting any time as they have already begun work on reforming the state's workers' compensation laws. If these efforts prove successful, it will be the first major overhaul to Colorado's workers' compensation
system in over 20 years - an overhaul that will likely impact workers throughout the state, including those in major cities such as Denver.
According to the Denver Business Journal, State Rep. Angela Williams - the Chairwoman of the House Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee - has opened up discussions with labor organizations and the business community in an effort to find areas of agreement within the two groups. Importantly, Williams indicated that she is wary of acting on any legislation until she can reach some accord between both sides.
While it may be some time before any proposed workers' compensation changes are revealed, labor leaders in Colorado have already made clear that there are certain issues they feel need to be dealt with. In fact, earlier this year, Phil Hayes, the political director for the Colorado AFL-CIO, told the Denver Business Journal that any new workers' compensation legislation would have to address three important areas, including:
- The current Colorado law that limits injured workers to choose between just two employer-offered doctors. This should be broadened to allow workers to seek care from doctors with whom they already have a relationship.
- The fact that 90 percent of disputed workers' compensation claims conclude with the worker not having a job at the company any longer. Workers compelled to leave an employer should receive some additional assistance, including training for a new job.
- The current Colorado law that permits employers to reduce injury settlements by 50 percent if the employer claims a worker violated safety rules at the time of injury.
This last of these issues is particularly worrisome given that an alleged rule violation does not even have to relate to an official safety regulation before an injured worker's settlement can face severe cuts. For instance, Colorado courts have recognized that a safety rule does not have to be formally adopted, or even in writing, before compensation can be reduced by half. At times, oral warnings can be sufficient enough to trigger this provision.
Consequently, some labor organizations are concerned that this provision, in its current form, can be used by employers to threaten reduced benefits due to unwritten rules as a way of influencing workers to accept smaller payouts.
Legal assistance is available
All too often, injured Colorado workers find themselves lost in the myriad of applicable laws, not knowing what their rights and options actually are. This is why it is always advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced workers' compensation attorney. A skilled attorney can help review the circumstances of your workplace accident and assist in filing your workers' compensation claim.
Article provided by The Law Firm of Janice M. Greening, LLC
Visit us at www.greening-law.com