What If My Employer Lacks Workers' Compensation Coverage?
Virtually all employers in Massachusetts are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide coverage in case of on-the-job injury or work-related illness. This is the law per MGL ch. 152 § 25A, and it’s applicable to full- and part-time workers across almost all industries.
At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our legal team knows that while there are some limited exceptions, it’s presumed an employer has to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the Commonwealth unless they can prove otherwise.
Unfortunately, far too many companies fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance or carry enough of it to cover all employees who deserve it. That can leave injured workers scrambling to determine their next step. Is there any way they can still get coverage? How are they going to pay their medical bills? Should they sue their employer?
This is where an experienced attorney can help. It is still possible to get coverage, and you can probably take your employer to court. However, the process in these cases is going to be more complex. Assistance from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is advised.Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund
If an employee is injured on-the-job while working for a company that does not have workers’ compensation insurance, those workers can file to collect from the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund.
This fund is established pursuant to MGL 152 § 65.
Workers file a claim with the trust fund, and those claims are weighed directly by the Department of Industrial Accidents, which manages the fund through a team of attorneys. Those lawyers provide a number of legal services in connection with remitting payments on behalf of injured workers employed by companies that aren’t properly insured.
Additionally, the trust fund legal team will file action to collect reimbursement from the uninsured employer on behalf of the trust fund.When Does An Employee File a Claim Against the Trust Fund?
The Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund stands in the place of the “insurer” if a company is breaking the law by not having work injury insurance. As the named “insurer,” it can deny or limit claims as it sees fit.
In these situations, workers can file a claim to request a judicial proceeding before an administrative law judge.
Workers must file an Employee Claim Form – 110 for claim benefits for workers’ compensation against the trust fund. Documentation pursuant to 452 CMR 1.07 has to be attached, as well as any relevant medical bills.
It’s not uncommon for the fund to contest the benefits claimed or remit less than what seems fair.
Again, because there is a great deal of complexity in these proceedings, it’s highly recommended workers facing these circumstances hire legal counsel.What Happens to the Uninsured Employer?
There are a number of remedies both the Commonwealth and the injured worker may take against an employer who fails to provide workers’ compensation insurance as required.
Per the Department of Industrial Accidents, companies that operate without workers’ compensation insurance face:
- A “Stop Worker Order,” issued by the department’s Office of Investigations
- A minimum $100 daily fine, starting on the date of issuance
- Fines that accrue each day until insurance becomes effective
- Criminal sanctions, including up to 1 year in prison and a $1,500 fine for a first-time conviction
- Debarment from public contracts for three years
This is all in addition to reimbursement for money paid to injured workers of the uninsured employer through the state’s special trust fund.
This not a situation the government takes lightly. The DIA reports that in 2013, it investigated some 6,000 companies for workers’ compensation coverage issues, and as a result, more than 2,300 Stop Work Orders were issued, ultimately resulting in $1.35 million in fines.Injured Worker Remedy
In addition to seeking compensation through the state’s special fund, the injured worker also has the option of filing a civil lawsuit against the uninsured employer.
Normally, this kind of action would be prohibited per the “exclusive remedy” provision of workers’ compensation law. However, when employers break their end of the bargain, they can no longer expect this protection.
There are some benefits to having the right to sue an uninsured employer. For example, while workers’ compensation insurance does not cover pain and suffering, those expenses are recoverable in civil litigation.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL