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Why do I need workers’ compensation?

April 25, 2024
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Why are Colorado employers required to purchase workers’ compensation coverage? In a word: Compromise.

Working in Colorado around the turn of the twentieth century was dangerous, particularly in the booming gold, silver and coal mines. The deadliest workplace accident in state history occurred outside Trinidad in 1917 when a coal mine explosion took the lives of 121 men. Historically, those men’s families would have been left both grieving and destitute, with no recourse for compensation.

Fortunately, just two years earlier, the state legislature passed the Colorado's Workers' Compensation Act, which provided wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured on the job and, in the case of a fatal accident, benefits to surviving dependents.

That same 1915 legislation also created a state workers' compensation fund that evolved into today's Pinnacol Assurance.

The Colorado law was designed to provide a compromise that would allow workers to receive guaranteed medical care and compensation for workplace injuries, regardless of fault.

But it's not just employees who benefit from this system; employers also gain significant protections and advantages. To understand why workers' compensation is so crucial for employers, we'll explore its role as an "exclusive remedy" and its current state in the employment landscape.

Exclusive Remedy: Protection for Employers and Employees

At the heart of workers' compensation is the principle of "exclusive remedy." This means that if an employee is accidentally injured on the job, workers' compensation benefits are the sole source of recovery against the employer. Injured workers and their dependents cannot sue their employers or their co-workers for injuries covered by workers' compensation.

This system protects employees by ensure they receive:

  • prompt and fair compensation
  • reasonably necessary medical care

At the same time, it shields employers from potentially devastating lawsuits that could arise from workplace accidents.

Current State of Workers' Compensation

Today, workers' compensation is a well-established part of the employment landscape in the United States and many other countries. Every state has some form of workers' compensation law, although specifics vary from state to state. These laws have evolved to cover a broad range of work-related injuries and illnesses, including those that develop over time, such as repetitive stress injuries, occupational diseases, and mental impairment.

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on workplace safety and prevention, with both employers and employees benefiting from reduced injury rates. Technological advancements and better safety practices have contributed to this trend. However, when accidents do happen, workers' compensation remains a critical safety net.

A compromise for all

Workers' compensation serves as a cornerstone of the employer-employee relationship, offering protection and peace of mind to both parties. By providing an exclusive remedy for accidental workplace injuries, it balances the needs of workers for prompt and fair compensation with the needs of employers for a stable and predictable legal environment.

As the workplace continues to evolve, the role of workers' compensation in protecting that balance will undoubtedly remain vital. Employers who understand and value the workers' compensation system are better equipped to manage risks, maintain a productive workforce, and foster a safe and healthy work environment.

Pinnacol Assurance assumes no responsibility for management or control of customer safety activities. Please ensure your business meets the requirements of all federal, state, and local laws, regulations, or ordinances related to workplace safety.

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