Friday, March 20, 2009

Work Injuries and Uninsured Employers: What If You are Hurt on the Job and Your Employer Has No Workers' Compensation Insurance?

In Minnesota, employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance coverage or to obtain approval from the Minnesota Department of Commerce to self-insure for workers’ compensation. Employers are also required to post a poster in the workplace with the name and telephone number of the workers’ compensation insurance company. Not all employers comply with this requirement, however. Employers even occasionally refuse to tell employees who their insurance company is.

You can verify if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance coverage, and find out the name and contact information for the insurance company using the Department of Labor and Industry’s insurance look-up tool. If you can’t find your employer’s insurance company using the search tool, contact the Department of Labor and Industry’s Claims Services and Investigations unit to request insurance coverage verification about any employer in the state at (651) 284-5170.

What if you are hurt on the job and your employer doesn’t have insurance?

If you suffer an injury on the job, and your employer has no insurance and is not self-insured, you may request that the Minnesota Special Compensation Fund pay you the appropriate benefits. First, a compensation judge will have to determine whether the employer is liable for your injury, and then, if appropriate, order the Special Compensation Fund to pay you the appropriate benefits. The judge will also order the uninsured employer to reimburse the Special Compensation Fund along with a penalty in the amount of 65 percent of the benefits paid by the Fund. Alternatively, you may elect to sue the employer for the injury in a civil action. Generally, you would be entitled to a greater amount of compensation in a civil action against the employer than in a workers’ compensation action. If you opt to pursue a civil case against your employer, the employer may not defend the lawsuit by claiming the usual common law defenses, such as assumption of risk, unless the employer can prove that you were willfully negligent.

In addition, an uninsured employer may also be fined by the Department of Labor and Industry for failing to insure employees, regardless of whether an injury has occurred.

If you suspect your employer or another business is operating without workers’ compensation insurance in violation of Minnesota law, you can report the violation here or by calling (651) 284-5109, and your report will be investigated by the Claims Services and Investigations' Investigative Services Section of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

If your employer does not have insurance or won’t give you their workers’ compensation insurance information, you should probably consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. We can help verify insurance coverage, and if there is no insurance company, we can assist you in obtaining benefits from the Special Compensation Fund or by making a civil claim against your employer. Meuser & Associates has successfully handled many cases where the employer failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a workers' compensation lawyer, call us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Visit Minnesota Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Law Firm, Meuser & Associates, P.A., at
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