If you reported a workplace injury and your employer tells you it has no insurance, you have several options to get compensation. Your first reaction may be concern, frustration, or anger that your employer is not covered. Do not panic – you have recourse for getting the benefits that you need. You should consider hiring a lawyer to protect your rights as you pursue the options listed below.
Minnesota law requires employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance coverage or get approval from the Minnesota Department of Commerce to self-insure for workers’ comp claims. To self-insure, an employer must prove its financial ability to pay claims by employees. Even employers with just one part-time employee or a few full-time employees need insurance coverage.
Employers that do not purchase coverage face substantial penalties imposed by the state. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry may order an employer to obtain coverage, to stop employing employees until it gets coverage, and to pay fines of $1,000 per employee per week the employer did not have insurance. Those fines can add up. Employees who think their employer does not have coverage may make a report to the DLI. The DLI can perform an investigation if it suspects an employer does not have coverage, before it orders the employer to pay fines.
Of course, if you have already been injured at work, DLI investigation and penalties will not help you get benefits. Minnesota has a Special Compensation Fund to pay benefits for injured employees whose employers did not have workers’ compensation insurance coverage at the time the injuries occurred. To receive these benefits, the employee must request payment from the Special Compensation Fund and a judge must determine that the employer is liable for the employee’s injury. If a judge orders payment from the Special Compensation Fund, he or she will order the employer to reimburse the Fund for the employee’s benefits amount and pay a 65% penalty plus costs to the Fund.
Employees have a second option aside from requesting payment from the Special Compensation Fund. They can sue the employer in civil court for the amount of losses due to the injuries (such as medical costs and lost wages). Potentially, the employee could receive an award for more than the amount of available workers’ compensation benefits. There are several other benefits to bringing a civil suit, although going to court is more complicated than applying for workers’ compensation in general. You should speak to a lawyer about the best option for pursuing benefits if your employer is uninsured.
Need help getting workers’ compensation because your employer has no insurance? 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.