My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance. What can I do?
You’ve hurt your back at work and the bills from the doctor are starting to add up. You’ve asked your employer about workers’ compensation to help with the expenses, but your employer told you they don’t have workers’ compensation insurance and can’t pay. Something doesn’t seem quite right. You might be left wondering, is my employer legally required to provide workers’ compensation benefits?
The answer is YES. In Illinois it is illegal for an employer to run a business without workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance is in place to make sure the employer can afford to pay you for medical bills and even time off in the case of a work-related injury. In some cases, an employer can opt out of insurance as long as they can afford to pay workers’ compensation out of their own pocket. But in order to do this, they must apply to the Workers’ Compensation Commission for permission to self-insure. So, choosing not to insure is NOT an option for a business in Illinois, and is punishable by some hefty fines and even jail time in some cases.
If your employer is claiming not to have workers’ compensation insurance, one of two things may be going on:
- They DO NOT have insurance or permission to self-insure, and are therefore in violation of Illinois law, or
- they DO have insurance, and are trying to discourage you from applying for worker’s benefits.
It may seem impossible to move forward when you are dealing with pain and an uncooperative employer. But there are resources that can help you determine whether your employer is truly in violation of the Workers’ Compensation Act, or whether they are simply trying to prevent an injury claim from going through. (Either way, they are running a business unethically, and it is your right to find out the truth about your benefits.) Here are some things you can do:
- You can check the workplace for a posted benefits notice.
- You can contact the Workers’ Compensation Commission at email@example.com or toll-free at 866/352-3033.
- If you have determined that your employer is uninsured, you may contact the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Insurance Compliance Division. The Division can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 312/814-6611, toll-free 866/352-3033.
You can also visit the Commission’s website for more information on the Workers’ Compensation Act, and check our Information Links page at https://www.illinoiscompensation.com/information-links/ for helpful online resources.
If your employer is telling you they do not have workers’ compensation insurance, something is not quite right. Whether they are knowingly denying this benefit, negligently unaware that they are required to provide this benefit, or simply trying to prevent you from submitting a claim, they are on any of these counts in violation of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
For an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, contact us to ensure that you get the benefits you deserve. No one should have to suffer through this process alone.