Being injured at work can seriously change your entire life, the way you will earn in the future, and how much you will earn. But, if you work in a decent company where the employer has workers’ compensation, there is nothing to worry about at least, not for the financial part. But what happens when the employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance? What should a worker do in case they get injured on the job and have no option for these benefits?
First and foremost, get medical help as soon as possible and then call a workers’ compensation attorney. Chances are, you will probably have to sue your employer or rely on a state-sponsored workers’ compensation system to get these benefits. Both options aren’t smooth, but with the help of an attorney, they are manageable.
If you are in such a situation at the moment it is best to call an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
What if Your Employer Doesn’t Have Insurance?
After the injury gets medical help, there is no need to ask your employer for permission. Once your injuries are treated, the journey begins. You have thirty days to file a claim. During this time (or usually immediately after the injury) you will learn if the employer has insurance. Not having workers’ compensation insurance is against the law for Georgia companies with at least three employees.
It means the employer is trying to be cheap and exposing their workers to risk. You can and should file a lawsuit. Even though you can do this on your own, it’s best to have legal assistance by your side. Your attorney will know what you need to include in the lawsuit and they will guide you into the process.
How to Build a Winning Workers Compensation Case?
Every court case will seek evidence. So, with workers compensation:
- Keep all medical records and bills associated with the injury or illness.
- If you can, take photos of the accident site.
- Get contact info from any witnesses.
- Select tax records, pay stubs, and write down the days the injury stopped you from working.
This evidence goes in your favor, but the battle is at the very beginning. Many employers will defend the eligibility for workers’ compensation. Your employer may claim that you aren’t eligible because you are an independent contractor.
If you file income tax via a 1099 form, then the company is not typically liable, but there are exceptions to this.
Employers generally must provide workers’ compensation benefits even though this varies from state to state. If you are a construction worker for example and worked on a construction site, the company must provide you workers’ compensation insurance.
Even if you are an independent contractor (real estate agent, consultant, freelancer) and aren’t considered to be an ’employee, this is still a grey area and you shouldn’t just give up your benefits. This is why you need an attorney to be by your side.
Two Options for Workers’ Compensation
If the employer doesn’t have the workers’ compensation insurance or doesn’t want to file the insurance claim on your behalf, you can sue them or go through the state system. The state system isn’t so risky, but you can expect a much lower settlement. So it is a risk, whether you end up with a small settlement that might not be enough to cover your medical bills, or file a lawsuit and gain a huge settlement or get nothing. It’s best to talk to your attorney about this, so they can review your case and tell you what chances you have.
Uninsured Employers Funds
Most states have a fund specially made to protect injured workers working for an employer without insurance. This fund is usually funded by a small tax on workers’ compensation policies written in the state. The fund will pay what the employee would have otherwise gotten through a regular workers’ compensation claim (medical bills, lost wages, disability benefits). These are known as “actual damages” in court. The employee will file a claim and the employer will set an amount of time to respond. If it refuses cooperation, then a hearing will be set to determine the benefits.
There are a few more potential potholes in this compared to a regular workers’ compensation filing.
If you’re an injured worker who can’t get a workers’ compensation claim for various reasons (especially if your employer doesn’t have it), make sure to call our office today. We’ll review your case and stand by your side.