Uncovered Employer

by Andrew Bainbridge | Jan 07, 2022 | General Information

Why Does my Employer NOT Have Workers’ Compensation Coverage? What Happens If I Get Hurt at Work, and My Employer is Not Covered?

Many injured workers have questions about how their workers’ compensation claim will impact their employer’s coverage status. For example, if not covered, will they still collect compensation? Or what happens if you get hurt at work and your employer is not covered? Under Ohio Workers’ Compensation Law, injured workers will remain eligible for benefits regardless. Therefore, they do not have to stress whether their employer is covered.

In this blog from The Bainbridge Firm, learn how the workers’ compensation system works, how it works for different types of employment situations, and what can happen if your employer violates workers’ compensation. 

How Does the Workers’ Compensation System Work?

Where does workers’ compensation money come from? Ohio Code 4123-14-01 requires employers to make monthly payments to the state insurance fund or comply with self-insurance requirements. Any employer with at least one employee must contribute to the state fund. Only businesses without employees are exempt. The following companies do not have to carry workers’ compensation because they have no employees: 

  • Sole proprietors with no employees
  • Partnerships with no employees
  • Family farm corporate officers with no employees
  • Individuals incorporated as a business with no employees
  • Limited liability companies acting as sole proprietors with no employees
  • Limited liability companies acting as partnerships with no employees
  • Ordained or associate ministers of religious organizations exercising their ministries (but any paid employees of the church must be covered)

To enforce the code, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has the power to place a lien on the offending employer’s property. In other words, BWC has the right to take the employer’s property if the employer fails to pay workers’ compensation. Late payments and other violations of workers’ compensation laws are subject to fees. Failure to pay on time results in a $30 fee, plus 15 percent of the amount due, a potentially devastating amount. 

Even if an employer neglects to contribute to the fund, injured employees should still apply for benefits. The BWC has a fund set aside specifically for these situations. As a result, an employee seeking workers’ compensation is unaffected by the payment status of their employer. In addition, the injured employee has the option to sue their employer directly.

The workers’ compensation system is, at its heart, an insurance system. The Ohio legislature believes that in order for businesses to operate in the state, employers have to compensate their employees for their injuries. There are two places the money can come from state-funded employers and self-insured employers. State-funded employers pay premiums to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. That pool of money is then paid out to employees across the state. Self-insured employers are generally larger than state-funded employers. They pay employees directly instead of working through the state fund. It does not matter which type of employer an employee has. An injured employee is entitled to benefits regardless of her employer’s status. 

What About the Workers’ Compensation for Those Self-Employed?

Once again, the following businesses do not have to carry workers’ compensation because they have no employees: 

  • Sole proprietors with no employees
  • Partnerships with no employees
  • Family farm corporate officers with no employees
  • Individuals incorporated as a business with no employees
  • Limited liability companies acting as sole proprietors with no employees
  • Limited liability companies operating as partnerships with no employees
  • Ordained or associate ministers of religious organizations exercising their ministries (but any paid employees of the church must be covered)

Under Ohio law, sole proprietors and everyone else on the above list do not need to secure workers’ compensation coverage for themselves. However, just because workers’ compensation was created for employees does not mean that sole proprietors cannot benefit from the system. Those that elect to receive coverage will find that it is added to their current policy.

The BWC will not provide payouts to any sole proprietors, partnerships, family farm corporate officers, etc., who do not choose to cover themselves. Additionally, other insurance may not cover work-related injuries or medical bills. Reportable wages are subject to a minimum and maximum, based on the statewide average weekly salary calculated by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. 

Can Employers Be Punished for Workers’ Compensation Violations?

The state of Ohio may choose to prosecute workers’ compensation violations of the employer. If an employer does not treat an employee fairly and promptly deal with the workers’ compensation claim, the state can bring sanctions, fines, and personal criminal charges. 

It is important to remember, even if your employer does not pay into the Ohio workers’ compensation system, you still very well may have a compensable claim. The issue at hand is whether or not your injury or occupational disease arose from your employment and occurred in the course of your employment. If you can establish both criteria, it is irrelevant that your employer failed to pay the proper premiums. 

If your employer treats you differently or terminates you, you may have a retaliation action against the employer for your mistreatment due to your pursuit of a workers’ compensation claim. Contact an attorney at the Bainbridge Firm today if you have questions about your injury, whether it is compensable, or about the treatment you received after being hurt on the job. 

 

Tags: Columbus workplace accident lawyer compensable work injury Uncovered Employer Workplace Safety