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SMALL BUSINESS OPPOSES LAWYERS' BID TO DISMANTLE WORKERS' COMPENSATION SYSTEM

 SMALL BUSINESS OPPOSES LAWYERS' BID
 TO DISMANTLE WORKERS' COMPENSATION SYSTEM
 DENVER, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)/Colorado:
 The state's largest small-business organization today announced it will vigorously oppose a lawyer-sponsored constitutional amendment to enable injured workers to sue for damages and override Colorado's no- fault workers' compensation system, saying it would lead to out-of- control litigation that would devastate the already sagging economy.
 The so-called Safe Workplace Amendment, introduced in the legislature as SB 218 and the subject of a title hearing this week before the secretary of state, would allow workers or survivors to sue employers for damages beyond what they would be entitled to under the current workers' compensation system if it could be determined that an unsafe work environment resulted in injury or death.
 "Our workers' compensation system was designed decades ago as a no- fault system to ensure that legitimately injured workers received adequate and speedy compensation," said Ron Smith, state director of the 13,500-member National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)/Colorado. "Employers agreed years ago to automatically assume responsibility for job-related injuries in exchange for some sensible regulation of benefit awards.
 "Colorado's workers' compensation system is far from perfect, but its problem has been that there's already too much litigation creeping into what has been designed as a no-fault system. This amendment would open the floodgates and inundate the state with thousands of needless lawsuits. This is the lawyers' relief bill of 1992 masquerading as a reform measure."
 Even after an NFIB-sponsored reform measure passed last year limiting attorneys' contingency fees and redistributing benefits to more seriously injured workers, Colorado still has the highest average payout for permanent partial disability benefits in the region and one of the highest in the country, according to data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance.
 "It's clear that these reforms hit the attorneys where their pocket books are, and now they're striking back," Smith said. "The ones who are going to get hurt are the workers as well as their employers. Not a day goes by a Colorado small-business owner doesn't receive a letter from an out-of-state development official wooing them with the promise of more reasonable workers' compensation insurance rates."
 NFIB, with more than 500,000 members and offices in 50 states, is the country's largest small-business advocacy organization.
 -0- 2/4/92
 /CONTACT: Ron Smith of NFIB Colorado, 303-860-1778; or Alan Maltun of Braun Ketchum, 213-385-3481, for NFIB Colorado/ CO: NFIB Colorado ST: Colorado IN: SU: LEG


CH-KJ -- LA005 -- 6677 02/04/92 12:10 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 4, 1992
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