Can I Get Compensation for On-the-Job Injury If My Employer Isn’t Insured?
Falls, vehicle accidents, and intentional violence: three of the most common causes of workplace injury. Under both federal and state law, most employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to help employees with medical bills, lost wages, and disability in case of on-the-job accidents. An uninsured employer may face criminal charges and large fines, but these don’t help the unlucky employee who discovered the insurance gap the hard way.
How Do I Know if My Employer Is Insured?
Most of us don’t check whether a company has workers’ comp coverage before signing a contract with them. After all, it’s a legal requirement—like providing a safe working environment and paying wages on time. That means your first encounter with workers’ comp may come after an accident has occurred.
Your employer should be able to tell you exactly how to get in touch with their insurer. A slight delay (up to a day) is normal, as they may have to find the information and procedure. If an employer dodges your questions or refuses to give a straight answer, however, they may not be insured. Thankfully, you don’t have to rely on your employer for answers. Every state keeps proof of workers’ comp coverage in a database, and most allow you to search their records online. Visit the Kansas Coverage Verification page or Missouri’s “Are You Covered?” page to find your employer’s workers’ comp information.
What Do I Do if My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Comp?
If you try to file a claim only to learn that your employer isn’t insured, you may feel stressed, scared, and even angry. We’re here to help you navigate your next steps in recovering the compensation you need to assist in your recovery. First, you should know that you will not be stuck covering costs on your own. State funds fill in for uninsured companies to make sure employees do not suffer for their employers’ mistakes. Alternately, you may be able to sue your employer directly for reimbursement. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you start the modified claim process to secure the safety net you need in this difficult time.
Are There Other Options for Assistance?
Kansas’ Workers’ Compensation Fund and Missouri’s Second Injury Fund help injured employees in these respective states get back on their feet if their employers do not have the necessary coverage. Both of these funds work under the same model: Workers can file a claim directly to the fund and, once approved, will receive compensation for medical costs. The fund then becomes responsible for recovering the claim amount from the employer, so you don’t have to undertake a long legal battle while trying to recover.
Both states also allow injured employees to sue uninsured employers. Especially in Missouri, where the Second Injury Fund will not cover temporary or permanent disability payments, additional legal action may be necessary to recover the long-term losses caused by a work-related injury.
Workers’ compensation is confusing enough without having to deal with uninsured employers. Work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney by contacting us online or calling (913) 815-1347.
Case Study: Kansas Claim Denied Due to Insurance Lapse
A client injured his shoulder while working in Kansas. Due to the employer’s failure to renew their workers’ compensation policy, there was no coverage on the date of the injury. At first, the company tried to make good: It paid for a couple of doctor visits. When surgery was recommended, it immediately denied the claim, ceasing payment of medical and lost wage benefits.
The worker came to Haight Stang, LLC to prove that his injury happened on the job and that he was entitled to both surgery and temporary total disability. We prevailed at the preliminary hearing, but the employer refused to honor the order to pay. As a result, we brought in the Kansas Workers' Compensation Fund as a party to the claim. In any situation where the employer is unwilling or unable to claim, the Fund will act as an insurance carrier to see that treatment and benefits are provided in a timely manner. Our client was able to resume treatment shortly thereafter thanks to the Fund’s intervention.
As we mentioned above, the Fund goes after the employer to recover all costs related to the injury and assessed penalties for failing to carry insurance. In this particular case, the employer has already been fined $27,000 on top of the medical bills and benefits they will ultimately have to pay back. If they fail to do so, the state can bring criminal charges against them.
Don’t Let an Uninsured Employer Intimidate You Out of Filing
Needless to say, an uninsured employer will lie, threaten, and do just about anything to get an injured worker to sweep a workplace accident under the rug. More often than not, the worker(s) affected will ultimately be fired and stuck with large medical bills and/or an injury that was never properly treated. This kind of retaliation is illegal, but many employers count on workers not knowing their rights—or deciding it’s too hard to file suit. Don't let yourself be pushed around by an irresponsible employer! Your health and your future are too important.
For help dealing with an uninsured employer, contact us online or call (913) 815-1347.