This year marks 100 years since Colorado enacted its first workers’ compensation law. Before the law went into effect, an injured worker would have to sue the employer in court, and prove that the employer was negligent. In other words, the injured worker would have to prove in court that the injury was the fault of the employer. The problem with this is that it often took a long time to get into court, sometimes even years. During this time, the injured worker was without any monetary or medical benefits. Another problem is that it is often very difficult to prove that the employer was at fault, meaning that the injured worker would lose the case. Also, there are many injuries that are caused by nobody’s fault. In these cases, the injured worker would also lose.
The workers’ compensation law which was enacted in 1915 made workers’ comp a “no fault system”. This means that if an injury occurred at work, it is generally covered. It does not matter whose fault the injury was, or whether it was anybody’s fault. Unlike the old system, where the injured worker had to wait years to get into court, the no fault system was designed to insure that the case would be decided promptly, and that the injured worker would get lost wages and medical benefits if the judge found that he had a legitimate work-related injury.
In exchange for these good changes, the injured worker gave up the right to sue his employer in court. Even today, it is still not possible for an injured worker to sue his employer in court if he is injured on the job.
However, things are not always as they seem. Over the years, there have been many changes to the workers’ compensation act. Most of those changes have taken rights and benefits away from the injured worker. For example, it has become harder and harder for an injured worker to prove that he is totally disabled. Also, the insurance company now has very strict control over the doctors who the injured worker has to see during the course of the workers’ compensation case. The insurance company selects the doctors and pays the doctors. This means that the doctors who will be treating you after an injury may be more concerned with making the insurance company happy than with providing you with good medical care.