Three Situations When Workers’ Compensation Is Unavailable
In 2018, there were almost three million nonfatal workplace accidents in the United States. This figure does not include occupational diseases, such as breathing problems or hearing loss. Most states have mandatory insurance laws which require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. But as outlined below, many employers do not have a valid policy. In these cases, some job injury victims believe they have no legal rights.
But that’s not true. Even if the employer was uninsured, a New Orleans workers’ compensation attorney can still obtain compensation for victims. As a matter of fact, if the employer’s negligence caused the injury, these victims might be entitled to additional compensation for noneconomic losses, like pain and suffering, on top of economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages.
False Statements on Insurance Forms
Most people know that false statements on an insurance form usually prompt insurance companies to invalidate policies. In this context, these false statements usually involve employee/payroll figures.
Insurance companies use this information to assess premium amounts. Employers who make false statements in this area illegally reduce their premiums. This underpayment has wide-ranging consequences. Lower premiums mean less money in the system, which means Claims Examiners are even stingier.
Some employers simply lie about the number of employees or the amount of payroll. Others claim that their employees are independent contractors, so their payroll is artificially lower. Still others misclassify worker duties. For example, a fishing company might claim that it has ten fishermen and ten accountants, when it really has eighteen fishermen and two accountants.
No Insurance At All
An alarming number of companies simply do not purchase workers’ compensation insurance. They calculate that the risk of getting caught, or the risk of dealing with an uncovered injury, is lower than the amount of money they save by not buying insurance.
Louisiana has inspectors who are supposed to monitor employers and ensure that they have insurance. But these inspectors are not particularly diligent. Additionally, even if the company is caught, the penalty is usually only a fine which barely exceeds the amount illegally saved.
As for uninsured injuries, if that happens, unscrupulous employers generally offer to pay medical bills and lost wages under the table if workers do not report their injuries. That’s a tempting offer for injured workers who need money. However, if the employer later reneges on this promise, which will almost certainly happen, the claims deadline has usually passed. As a result, the worker has no financial relief.
Fake Insurance Policy
On a related note, there are companies which sell fraudulent declaration pages to satisfy inspectors. But these “policies” have no financial backing.
As mentioned, if the employer did not have insurance, victims must prove negligence in court. That’s easier to do in Louisiana. If the employer did not have a valid workers’ compensation policy, the employer typically cannot use some powerful legal defenses, like comparative fault and assumption of the risk. So, taking on this company in court is like taking on a boxer with one arm tied behind his back.
Reach Out to an Experienced Attorney
If the boss did not have insurance, injured workers still have legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, contact Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe, PLLC. We routinely handle matters in Louisiana and Mississippi.