Sunday, October 05, 2008
Amendment 57 Injured Worker Remedies (Withdrawn)
The upcoming election has on the ballot Amendment 57. Well that was the story but this has been withdrawn even though its on the ballot. Amendments 53,55,56 and 57 were withdrawn by the Dems. I will not bother to discuss all these but Amendment 57 was an effort to help injured workers by adding another claim that could be filed. However it is beyond workers compensation coverage. In the past workers compensation has been considered the exclusive remedy for a work injury. You could not sue your employer for an unsafe workplace. You could not recover for pain and suffering or punitive damages. Your remedy was limited to those benefits allowed by Colorado workers comp law. If this law passes it opens the door to new civil claims with a jury trial for unsafe workplaces that cause damages to workers. However it only applies to employers with ten or more employees and it prevents a double recovery for the same losses for which you received workers compensation benefits. I prefer that we increase benefits within the workers compensation system but this proposed law does offer a new approach. Sadly some workers comp cases really do not fairly compensate injured workers. I am especially concerned about cases where you lose your trade but receive an amount set by law which is simply inadequate. This law, if it passes (but realize it is now withdrawn from the voters), opens the door to further civil claims and frankly injured workers deserve more. Insurers can contest claims and use the law to limit benefits without regard to the inhumanity of it. Pain is poorly compensated. Often the injured worker loses his job and his health and is expected to just move along with low benefits. This proposed law lets you present it to a jury who may understand the true losses that are experienced. What does seem clear to me is that the true losses from a work injury must be compensated whether by this withdrawn effort or others that loosen up the tough laws that hurt injured workers over the last 15 years or so.