Most states require employers to buy insurance for employees from a workers’ compensation insurance carrier. In several states, larger companies can self-insure or act as their own insurance company as long as they are clearly solvent. On the other hand, only smaller employers, with around three or four employees, are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance. A worker that gets injured can file a claim with the insurance company or self-insuring employer, who then pays medical and disability costs depending on a state-approved formula.
Employers who refuse to get workers’ compensation insurance are subject to civil liability, fines, and even criminal prosecution, unless they are qualified for certain exempt categories.
Here are the specific penalties associated with failure to provide the required workers’ compensation insurance coverage:
- Criminal prosecution
- Suing the employer instead of filing a compensation claim, depending on the employee’s choice.
- An injured worker gets workers’ compensation benefits as a personal liability of the employer.
Aside from the workers’ compensation coverage, most states also require employers to perform the following duties:
- Publish a notification of compliance with workers’ compensation laws in a visible place at every job site.
- In the event of on-the-job injuries, provide emergency medical treatment immediately.
- Provide further medical treatment for injured workers who are unable to choose a doctor or those who inform their employer in writing of a request not to do so.
- Send a full report of the injury to a nearby workers’ compensation board office. The employer should also mail a copy of the report to the insurance company. Any employer who neglects to create an injury report may be guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine.
- Create a written report of all accidents leading to personal injury that necessitates medical attention beyond first aid or more than two treatments by a health professional, and injuries that cause time loss from regular duties beyond the working hours.
- Submit any request for additional information related to injured workers as required by the workers’ compensation board or the employer’s insurance company. Requests may include reports of the period that the employee returns to work, statements of the injured employee’s earnings before and after the accident, and any other report needed to assess the employee’s work status after the injury.
Duty of the Employer to Avoid Retaliation
Workers’ compensation laws provide assistance to injured employees; however, they also aim to protect employers. These laws serve as the sole remedy that injured employees can ask from their employers. Still, employers frequently disapprove employees who seek to claim workers’ compensation benefits, and there are even some who straightforwardly discriminate against such employees. Since employees need protection from employers who purposefully harass, discriminate against, or unjustly terminate injured employees who file claims, most states have issued prohibition on employers against punishing, showing discrimination, or firing employees who take advantage of their rights under the workers’ compensation allows. Furthermore, employees are allowed to carry out civil actions against discriminatory employers for the misconduct “retaliatory discharge.”
If an employee who suffered from personal injury believes that the employer exhibited discrimination or performed wrongful termination, then he/she can file a claim against the employer for retaliatory discharge. In this type of suit, the employee has to convince a jury or judge that he/she was unjustly terminated. The employee doesn’t have to state that the only reason for the discharge is the workers’ compensation claim. Any other purported reasons can be presented to support the case. Typically, the test depends on whether the employer’s decision is chiefly due to the employee’s exercise of workers’ compensation rights.
Aside from termination, retaliation may also come in more subtle forms of discriminatory actions such as salary reduction or demotion. An injured employee is protected from discriminatory treatment after the injury and prior to the filing of a workers’ compensation claim.
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