What Do I Do When My Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
When you are hurt on the job, you look to insurance to help you receive treatment and get back on your feet. You assume that if you throw out your back, slip and fall, or suffer some type of work-related injury that insurance will be there to catch you. The entire point of workers’ compensation insurance is to ensure that you get the medical attention and financial assistance you need to provide for your family and get back to work as soon as possible. But what happens when workers’ compensation insurance is not there to help you? And what do you do if your employer should have been paying for this insurance coverage – but did not? For answers to your questions about work-related injuries and workers’ compensation insurance, call the experienced Atlanta GA workers compensation attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A.
When an Employer Should Have Worker’s Compensation Insurance
In Georgia, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage if they regularly employ three or more full or part-time workers. Regularly does not mean the person has to work Monday through Friday or every week. The person may only work weekends or consistently work every other week for a period of time. Even if the business only routinely employees three part-time individuals, it is still required to pay for insurance. That is not a high threshold point. Many small businesses have at least three employees, which means even these mom-and-pop shops need insurance coverage.
An Employer’s Civil Liability
If an employer does not carry workers’ compensation when it should, it can be held responsible for its workers’ injuries the same as if that employee had workers’ compensation insurance. Meaning whatever the employee was financially entitled to through insurance, he or she is now entitled to directly from the employer.
The State Board of Workers’ Compensation also has the right to assess civil penalties, attorney’s fees, and up to a 10 percent increase in the worker’s compensation if the employer willfully neglects or simply refuses to obtain the proper insurance coverage.
An Employer’s Criminal Liability
When an employer refuses or willfully neglects to obtain the legally required workers’ compensation insurance, they can be charged with a misdemeanor crime. If found guilty, the business can be fined up to $10,000 and the individual owner or officers can be imprisoned for up to one year.
What to Do if You Are Not Covered
If you were injured on the job and discovered you did not have workers’ compensation insurance, you should report the issue to the Enforcement Division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation at (404) 657-7285. This body will investigate the employer’s alleged non-compliance with the law and determine if civil or criminal penalties are warranted.
You should also immediately contact an attorney who will help you navigate this issue, which may need to head to court. You have a right to recover directly from your employer – this means being compensated for your medical expenses, receiving part of your salary while you are off work, and even disability payments if you cannot return to work. However, an employer may not want to pay. The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. understand how devastating a work-related injury can be and will aggressively fight for your recovery.
Recovering From Your Employer
Have your attorney speak with your employer about covering the costs that insurance would have paid. In some situations, your employer may quickly agree, understanding their civil and criminal liability in this situation. However, if your employer does not immediately agree to pay your medical expenses and a portion of your wages while you cannot work, then you have to move on to another option.
You and your attorney can seek recovery through mediation. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution technique where all parties involved work with a neutral third party to discuss the situation and come to settlement. You and your attorney can request mediation through the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. If mediation is not successful, your next choice is to sue your employer.
Your Right to Sue
Normally, when you are covered by workers’ compensation insurance, you are not allowed to sue your employer for your injuries. However, if you not properly insured, you have the right to bring a claim against your employer in court.
You can seek:
- Medical expenses;
- Rehabilitation costs;
- Travel expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Disability or disfigurement; and
- Punitive damages.
A lawsuit can be a long, difficult road to go down. However, it may be your only way to financially recover if there are no workers’ compensation benefits. An experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney like Ted A. Greve can help you every step of the way, reducing your stress and setting you up for a better future.
Why You Need an Attorney
Receiving benefits for a work-related injury through workers’ compensation is complicated enough. Trying to recover when you are wrongfully deprived of insurance is worse. Your journey toward recovery may be difficult – physically, financially, and emotionally. You may not know the law surrounding Georgia workers’ compensation insurance, but an experienced attorney in this field will. Instead of fighting yourself and increasing your stress, you can work with someone who has been down this road before and knows the best strategies to increase your recovery.
An attorney who has handled workers’ compensation matters before will understand how to open a dialogue with your employer to seek recovery. If help is not forthright, then your lawyer can explain your next best options and help you decide the right path for your situation.
An Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
Some people get nervous about involving attorneys, but a workers’ compensation lawyer is genuinely here to help. The attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates want to see you financially stable, healthy, and happy. If you are worried about the cost of legal representation, speak with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney today about their fees. Workers’ compensation matters are handled on a contingency basis, which means there is no upfront fees for you to worry about. Additionally, Georgia limits the fees attorneys can charge clients for these types of matters, so you can be sure you are not taken advantage of.
For more information, contact Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. right away.