The area of workers’ compensation law is one that is complex and nuanced. Employers know that it is important to follow California rules and regulations about how to conduct their business, including abiding by the workers’ compensation laws. While there are a variety of code provisions that impose affirmative duties on an employer in the workers’ compensation context, one of the most important is the almost universal requirement for employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you have failed to follow this provision and your employee has sustained a work-related injury, you may be wondering what are the important next steps.
The first step that you should take if you failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance and the employee has sustained a work-related injury is to retain a skilled attorney. Failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance can result in severe civil penalties or even criminal prosecution. Accordingly, you need to consult an attorney immediately to protect yourself and your business.
Next, you need to understand that just because you failed to carry insurance will not mean the business will not be responsible for medical bills. To the contrary, an employer can still be held responsible for payment of all medical bills associated with the treatment of the work-related injury. In addition, unlike a typical workers’ compensation case, there is no law restricting the employee from filing a civil lawsuit against the employer. In this type of lawsuit, the employer will be presumed to have acted negligently and cannot use the defense of contributory negligence. The result can be a very sizeable civil award to the employee.
If your business does not have the resources to pay the benefits for the injured employee, the Uninsured Employers Benefit Trust Fund can pay the workers’ compensation benefits. After the case has been resolved and a final sum of damages awarded, the UEBTF can pay this amount to the employee. The employer will be responsible for reimbursing the UEBTF for everything it has to pay out to the employee. To request payment of workers’ compensation benefits from the UEBTF, the employer must apply for payment and provide certain documentation. Ensuring your employee receives compensation from the UEBTF does not mean that you cannot be fined or even incarcerated for your failure to carry insurance.
We have externsive experience with helping clients when they have failed to carry the required insurance. Call us today for a consultation.