Prior to July 1, 1991, occupational disease cases were governed by a judicial rule called the “Josie Collins Rule”.  This rule, which came from a case called Royal Globe Insurance Company v. Collins, 713 P.2d 731 (Colo. 1986) meant that the employer who placed an employee in a situation where that employee’s activities could have, over time, caused or aggravated an occupational disease, then that employer or, if insured, its insurance carrier, would be basically responsible for all worker’s compensation benefits for the injured worker.  For example, if a claimant worked for ten different companies as a typist, and, at one or more of those companies, they developed a carpal tunnel problem, then the employer or insurance carrier at risk at the time of the last injurious exposure, or exposure to activities which could have caused or aggravated that carpal tunnel problem, would be responsible for paying for future medical benefits and any  temporary  or permanent disability awarded..  This would be true even if no one can prove that the condition was actually caused while working for that employer.  This rule, which was seen as unfair by some insurance carriers and employers, was changed by Senate Bill 218 and became effective for injuries occurring after July 1, 1991.  Now, when a claimant suffers an occupational disease the employer and insurance carrier in whose employment the claimant was last injuriously exposed to the hazard of such disease is responsible for all workers’ compensation benefits as long as the claimant suffered a “substantial and permanent aggravation” of the condition while working for that employer.  (Section 8-41-304, C.R.S. – the last injurious exposure rule).  (See also “Substantial Permanent Aggravation” in this Glossary).  If there is no substantial permanent aggravation but there is a last injurious exposure, the last carrier at risk might be responsible for medical care to cure the aggravation and temporary benefits if the injured worker cannot work.

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