Colorado workers’ compensation laws didn’t just magically come into being one day. Creating an administrative system of compensating workers injured on-the-job took many years of effort and trial and error.
Before the establishment of Colorado’s workers’ compensation system in 1915, injured workers had to prove overt negligence on the part of their employer or a fellow employee before they received compensation.
These common law benefits as we call them eventually were seen by the public as an insufficient means to protecting injured workers.
Therefore, an administrative system was created in 1915 to compensate Colorado workers injured on-the-job.
In the beginning, a worker had to be disabled for at least 3 weeks to receive wage loss, or temporary disability benefits. An injured worker received 50% of their weekly wage or a maximum of $8 per week. Today, they receive 2/3 of their weekly wage or a maximum allowance of 91% of the state’s average weekly wage.
Workers’ compensation benefits both employees AND employers – injured workers in Colorado no longer had to worry about not having income while they’re recovering from their injuries, regardless of fault. In exchange for providing a fixed amount of benefits, employers are exempt from all common law liability.
Workers’ compensation laws are quite explicit as to what benefits will pay for…there’s no separate compensation for pain and suffering. When the law initially took effect, they did not include occupational diseases but that was changed in 1945 when a list of 21 occupational diseases was added to the list. By 1975 though, the list was scrapped in favor of a statutory definition of an occupational disease.
While many different changes to the law have taken place over the years, the central premise remains the same. Injured workers can get medical treatment and compensation for injuries sustained on-the-job.
Learn more about the history and evolution of workers’ compensation laws in Colorado in this new knowledge center article from Colorado workers’ compensation lawyer R. Mack Babcock.
Hiring an experienced Colorado workers’ compensation attorney is not an ideal situation but is sometimes necessary to obtaining the benefits you’re entitled to.