Unfortunately, not all employers obey their legal obligation to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. When an employee gets hurt and the employer does not have insurance, the Minnesota Special Compensation Fund may pay the employee’s workers’ compensation benefits.
In Minnesota, all people or businesses that have one or more employees must get workers’ compensation insurance or qualify to be self-insured. Independent contractors and some casual workers such as many volunteers do not count as employees. But even small businesses with one part-time employee need insurance.
Many employers skate by without purchasing insurance until a worker gets hurt on the job. The injured worker can make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits from the employer. Under the law, the worker is entitled to benefits if he got injured in the course of working. When the worker finds out that the employer does not have insurance, he can report the employer to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI).
The DLI can assess fines against an uninsured employer. It can order compliance with the law, including orders to get insurance, not to employ anyone else until it covers an injured employee’s claim, and to pay a $1,000 fine per employee for each week the employer operated without insurance. Depending on how many employees it had, those fines can add up quickly. The employer has only 10 days to obey an order from the DLI.
In the meantime while the DLI is ordering an employer to follow the law, an injured worker can still receive benefits. Minnesota law established a “Special Compensation Fund” to help injured workers whose employers do not have insurance. Employees must make requests to the Fund to pay their benefits for work injuries.
After an employee makes a request to the Fund, a workers’ compensation judge will decide whether the employer is liable to pay benefits. Sometimes, liability will be clear, while other times the judge may have to decide difficult legal issues (such as whether a worker is an independent contractor, or whether the injury is work-related).
If the judge says the employer is liable, the Fund will pay for the worker’s medical expenses and wage loss benefits. In addition, the employer will have to pay the Fund back for the benefits and pay an additional penalty of 65% of those benefits. The penalty then funds benefits for other employees of uninsured employers.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.