Most states require employers to pay for workers comp coverage. Employers are required by the state’s laws to avail of insurance for their employees. Small businesses with 3-5 employees may no longer be required, but larger companies are. The really big companies may even be allowed to self-insure or act as their own workers’ compensation insurance companies. These companies will shoulder all that is required and covered in an ordinary workers comp as per the state-approved formula.
Unless employers are specifically allowed by law to not have workers’ compensation insurance, failure to get one for their employees will subject the employer to fines, criminal liability and civil liability.
If an employer fails to provide workers’ compensation insurance, they may be subject to the following:
- Criminal prosecution
- A lawsuit filed by an employee who is exercising the option to sue the employer rather than file a compensation claim
- Personal liability of the employer for any workers’ compensation benefits due injured workers
- In most states, employers are required to do the following in addition to acquire workers’ compensation insurance:
- Post a notice of compliance with workers’ compensation laws in a conspicuous place at each job site;
- Provide immediate emergency medical treatment for employees who sustain on-the-job injuries;
- Furnish further medical attention if an injured worker is unable to select a doctor or advises the employer in writing of a desire not to do so;
- Accomplish a report of the injury and mail it to the nearest workers’ compensation board office. Also mail the report to the employer’s insurance company. An employer who refuses or neglects to make an injury report may be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine;
- Make a written report of every accident resulting in personal injury that causes a loss of time from regular duties beyond the working day or shift on which the accident occurred or that requires medical treatment beyond first aid or more than two treatments by a doctor or persons rendering first aid;
- Comply with all requests for further information regarding injured workers by the workers’ compensation board or the insurance company, such as statements of the employee’s earnings before and after the accident, reports of the date of the employee’s return to work, or other reports that may be required to determine the employee’s work status following the injury.
Employer’s Duty Not to Retaliate
Employers may sometimes get back at employees who file a workers comp claim. In order to protect the employees from any form of discrimination or harassment form the employer because of their workers comp claim, some states provide laws that would enable an employee to file a civil suit against employers who may employ such retaliatory discharge of the employee from work.
If the employee decides to pursue a retaliatory discharge suit, they must prove to the judge or jury that they have been wrongfully terminated. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be proven that the discharge was the result of a workers compensation claim alone.
Other than termination or discharge, the employer may still use some more subtle ways to get back at the employee such as salary reduction or demotion. Injured employees get protection from such discriminatory acts immediately after the injury and prior to the filing of the formal workers comp claim.