The North Carolina Industrial Commission is cracking down on companies that illegally fail to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, as required by law to ensure injured employees will have coverage.
Using a new fraud alerting tool called the Non-compliant Employer Targeting System (NETS), the agency pinpoints potentially non-compliant companies, and then ranks them in terms of priority. The system went live in April, and has since discovered five employers who flouted state worker insurance law.
Workers’ compensation lawyers in Charlotte know state law mandates all businesses employing three or more people must maintain workers’ compensation insurance. Lumped into this are corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and sole proprietorships. Exceptions are made for self-insured employers, but for the most part, almost all companies have to maintain it, or else face possible government sanctions.
Of course, workers might not necessarily know if their employer has allowed this coverage to lapse or if it was never properly secured in the first place. If a worker in this situation sustains a job-related injury, there are a few options available. The first is to explore whether there is funding available at the state level. Formal complaints about coverage lapses should be filed with the state’s labor department with the help of your attorney.
Beyond that, a worker may have the option of filing a civil lawsuit against the employer. Workers’ compensation is what is typically considered an “exclusive remedy” for work-related injuries. It’s intended as a streamlined measure for injured workers to receive benefits without having to take the case to court or prove the employer negligent. However, if the employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation coverage, the employee can sue to recover losses, including medical bills, future lost earnings and pain and suffering.
Although this process is more tedious and time-consuming than a workers’ compensation claim, the upside is there is no limit on punitive damages and employees are free to seek damages for pain and suffering, where they would normally face these barriers in a straightforward workers’ compensation claim.
In the vast majority of jurisdictions, companies that fail to carry workers’ compensation coverage are not only going to be responsible to provide for the injured worker, they will also face strict penalties for violating the law. It’s going to be imperative in these situations to discuss your options with an experienced attorney.
The commission said it is committed to continuing its crackdown on businesses who seek an unfair business advantage by avoiding covering employees. These firms are ultimately gambling with the well-being of their workers, who deserve to have a means to pay their bills and care for their families if they’ve been hurt on the job, until they can return to work.
In the most recent round, each company was charged with one count of Failure to Maintain Workers’ Compensation Insurance, in direct violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. 97-94(d). Numerous other investigations are still pending.
The agency urged anyone with information regarding employers who do not have appropriate insurance should call the NCIC Compliance and Fraud Investigation Division at (888) 891-4895.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
North Carolina Industrial Commission’s New Fraud Alert Tool Results in Criminal Charges Against Employers for Failure to Have Insurance, Aug, 4, 2014, Staff Report, Targeted News Service, insurancenews.net
More Blog Entries:
Potter v. McCulla: Repetitive Stress Injuries and Workers’ Compensation, Aug. 20, 2014, Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog