June 26, 2019
By Rebecca Batisto
Most large employers go through their workers’ compensation packages during the hiring process and most employees never need to think about it again, but what happens if there is no workers’ comp and you get hurt on the job? Do you have any type of protection from mounting medical costs once you’ve been hurt? Today, we’re going to go through the recommended process for an employee without workers’ comp.
Before we start; if you are in the hiring process and your new employer hasn’t gone through the workers’ comp package, make sure you ask about it. For one, you’ll need to know your options if you get hurt, and secondly, if there is no workers’ comp package, you might be able to persuade them to get one or, at least, use it as a negotiating tool when it comes to discussing salary.
Most states require companies to carry workers’ compensation insurance. There are a few exceptions, but those cases typically involve sole proprietorships or businesses who have just a couple of workers. In Texas, companies are allowed to opt out of the state’s workers’ comp system however, businesses that choose not to participate usually have a separate account to help cover expenses related to these types of situations.
That being said, if you’re already employed by a company without workers’ comp and facing an injury, here’s what you should do…
When you’re injured at work, your first instinct is to simply get medical help, right? Of course that’s the most important thing to do. The faster you can get help, the more likely you are to recover quickly. The second most important thing to do is start documenting the process.
Start by reporting the injury to your supervisor. If you don’t report the injury then there’s nothing to document the injury having happened at work. Regardless of whether your company has workers’ compensation insurance or not, it’s imperative to report the incident and document your injuries. Make sure you report it in person, via email, text or phone call as soon as possible. From this moment on, keep a record of correspondence and any doctor’s visits and bills. You might need them if you decide to ask your employer to help cover costs.
You’ve got two choices if your boss tells you they don’t have workers’ compensation insurance: file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer, or check with your state’s Labor Department to see whether there is coverage available to you through a government program.
There are benefits and drawbacks to filing a lawsuit against your employer. The most obvious is that the process can play out in court for months or even years. That’s a long time to wait to have your medical bills paid, and you won’t be receiving a paycheck that whole time, not to mention any legal fees you’ll need to pay. On the flipside, the courts could eventually award you benefits not covered by workers’ compensation, such as future lost earnings, punitive damages, and pain and suffering. If you win the case.
Many states have Uninsured Employers’ Funds or something similar reserved for people who are injured while working for an uninsured employer. You may be able to have your medical bills covered by this program and receive payments for a portion of lost wages. Your state’s workers’ compensation office can help you through that process. Some states also offer temporary disability programs, which provide short-term benefits while you’re out of work.
Our personal recommendation is to ask now, before you’re hurt, whether workers’ compensation is part of your hiring package. If it is not, you can recommend that your employer get in touch with us. We can walk through the options that will protect you and your employer in the future.
At Normandy Insurance, we can help you find answers to your toughest questions. The penalties for not carrying workers’ compensation insurance can be stiff when you’re legally required to do so. In extreme cases, the financial blow can force a business to shutter operations. To avoid lawsuits, fines, imprisonment, or a business closure, talk with one of our licensed agents to be sure you’re in compliance with your state laws.