Most employers are required by law to carry workers’ compensation (WC) insurance to cover employees if they get injured on the job. However, some companies fail to comply with the law and don’t carry the proper insurance. If you get hurt while working, you may still be able to get benefits even if your employer doesn’t have the correct coverage.
What is Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ compensation insurance pays employees’ medical bills and lost wages when they get hurt at work. Once they report the injury to their employer, the employer will file a claim with the insurance company, and if approved, the employee will begin to collect benefits. However, sometimes the employer or WC insurance company denies claims.
Carrying workers’ compensation insurance ensures that employees cannot sue the company after they are injured. It protects the business and offers employees compensation for their medical expenses and lost wages. Typically, they will receive only a portion of their “regular” weekly earnings and only for a short amount of time. However, if the injury is severe and the disability permanent, the WC insurance company may pay them for a much more extended time period.
If an employer fails to carry the proper workers’ compensation insurance, they may be fined heavily when someone reports the issue to the appropriate authorities. It also increases their liability by allowing employees to file lawsuits against them.
How to Find Out if Your Employer Carries Workers’ Comp Insurance
If you are injured on the job, you must first inform your employer after seeking medical help. You may speak to someone in the human resources department. They will tell you if your employer has the proper insurance and how to proceed with filing a claim. They will have you fill out some paperwork so they can inform the WC company.
If they don’t have you fill out any paperwork and are reluctant to discuss the claims process, they may not have insurance. You could check online with your state’s workers’ compensation agency. Many of them have lookup tools to verify that an employer is covered and their coverage is up-to-date and accurate.
What to Do if Your Employer Doesn’t Have WC Insurance
Most businesses purchase workers’ compensation insurance, but some handle the claims in-house and pay out-of-pocket for benefits. Self-insurance programs are rare; most companies use third-party workers’ compensation carriers to manage claims and benefits.
After you are injured, if you report the injury to your employer and they tell you that there is no policy, you can still elect to pursue a workers’ compensation claim against them anyway, but collecting becomes very difficult. Alternatively, you can sue your employer for negligence but again, collecting on a verdict is challenging.
If your employer went out of business after your injury or when you are receiving benefits, you will still continue to receive all your benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance company.
The Benefits of a Lawsuit
The biggest benefit of filing a personal injury lawsuit is that you aren’t limited to a benefits cap like you are with filing a claim. You can also demand compensation for all your medical bills, treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering. With a typical workers’ compensation claim, you can only get medical bills and partially paid lost wages.
In some cases, you may also be able to demand “punitive damages” because your employer did not carry the proper WC insurance to cover your injury.
The Challenges of a Lawsuit
Along with the benefits, there can also be some challenges when choosing to go the legal route. First, the process is typically much slower. For example, if you file a claim with the state, you may start to receive benefits quickly (within a few weeks), whereas a lawsuit could take several months or even beyond a year.
The other thing that makes it tricky is that because you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove that your employer was “at fault” for your injury due to negligence or carelessness. Therefore, collecting evidence for this type of claim can be more challenging.
You should always consult a reputable personal injury lawyer before filing a lawsuit or making a claim.
How to Get Help After Your Injury
If you are injured, and your company does not carry workers’ comp insurance, you will need help. Don’t make a decision without first speaking to your personal injury lawyer. These types of cases can quickly get complicated, and you need an experienced professional on your side. Insurance companies and employers generally want to pay out as little as possible to make the problem go away.
Contact Adam Baron today for a free consultation. We want to help you get the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.