The laws governing workers’ compensation cases vary state by state, but no matter where you work, your employer has a responsibility to supply workers’ compensation to all employees. In many cases, when you’re doing research on workers’ compensation cases, you find a lot of information about what to do if you’re injured on the job, but what isn’t always clear is what exactly your employer is responsible for when it comes to an on-the-job injury. The laws that employers have to adhere to regarding workers’ compensation are fundamentally the same across all states. In most cases, an employer is responsible first and foremost, for purchasing or providing workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers’ compensation insurance was created in an attempt to compromise between workers and employers. It functions so that employees are covered for an on-the-job injury, no matter who is at fault. It’s also beneficial to employers, as they’re protected from lawsuits by injured employees who seek damages for pain and suffering. Even though workers’ compensation insurance was created to benefit both employers and employees, there are employers who attempt to get around the system and do not purchase insurance. There are a few instances where employers do not have to purchase workers’ comp insurance, however, and we’ll talk about that next.
Purchasing the Necessary Insurance
In most cases, an employer is required to purchase insurance that covers each employee while they’re on the job. There are opportunities for larger employers to self-insure in some states. This means that they act as their own insurance company. Companies with fewer than three or four employees are exempt from purchasing workers’ comp insurance. Unless a company falls within those two very small exceptions, they are subject to fines and criminal prosecution if they fail to obtain the proper insurance.
Additional employer duties in regards to workers’ comp
Simply having insurance isn’t enough. Most states require that employers also follow a specific set of instructions regarding workers’ compensation. Most of the following duties, if not all, are required of the majority of employers in the US:
- Employers must post a notice of their workers’ comp insurance in an obvious location at each job site.
- Provide emergency medical treatment for any employee who sustains an on-the-job injury.
- Offer further medical attention in the event that an employee is unable to select a doctor
- Complete a report of the injury and mail copies to both the workers’ compensation board office and the appropriate insurance company
- Employers who refuse or neglect to file the necessary injury reports will be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine
- Employers must also create a written report of every accident which results in an injury causing a loss of time from regular duties outside of the working day. This also applies to injuries that require more than two treatments from a doctor or medical personnel.
- Employers are required to comply with all requests for additional information from either the insurance company or the workers’ compensation board
Duty not to retaliate
Perhaps one of the most important duties of the employer, when it comes to you, the worker, is their duty not to retaliate. Employers are strictly prohibited from punishing any employee because of their wish to seek workers compensation. Workers compensation is a right granted to any and all employees, and employers may not prohibit or dissuade workers from seeking the necessary compensation. This extends to the following three most common situations:
Dissuading employees from seeking compensation
Unfortunately, there are employers who frown on employees seeking workers’ compensation. They make it difficult for employees to get the necessary paperwork, and in some cases may even threaten negative repercussions in the event that employees do seek workers’ compensation. This is illegal, and employees should do their best to file for workers’ compensation, or find an attorney who can file for them.
Another instance of unlawful retaliation is when an employer fires an employee as a result of their on the job injury. It’s important for all employees to know that this is highly illegal, and if this happens to you, you have grounds to sue that employer for retaliatory discharge. In a retaliatory discharge case, you do not have to prove that your termination was solely based on your workers’ compensation claim, but that the workers’ compensation was a substantial or significant part of the employer’s reasoning for your termination.
In other cases, employers do wrongfully discriminate against employees who have filed for workers’ compensation through demotions or reductions in salaries. Workers who file for compensation after an on-the-job injury are protected immediately after an injury and before a formal workers’ compensation claim is filed for just this reason. If you’ve been forced to take on a lower paying job after an on-the-job-injury for which you received compensation, it’s possible that your employer is acting wrongfully, and you may seek legal recourse.
Most any employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and should take care of their employees following an on-the-job injury. If you’ve filed a workers’ compensation claim after your injury at work, and have been denied compensation, have received a demotion, or have been terminated as a result, it’s time to seek legal representation.
Workers’ compensation cases can get confusing, so it’s good to have someone by your side who’s familiar with the process, and can walk you through your case. For help determining if you have a case, or seeking the workers’ compensation you deserve, call the Epstein Law Firm at 773-522-7000. We’ve been representing workers’ compensation cases for decades, and would love to answer any questions you have. As always, your initial case evaluation is free. Schedule yours online today.