Uninsured employers face a variety of challenges in the state of California. Failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance can be disastrous for employers when an employee claims to have become injured on the job, resulting in criminal allegations and action being taken against them in civil court, leading to potential fines, incarceration, and dissolution of the business. However, employers who are currently uninsured can take measures to avoid these risks, and an attorney who specializes in helping uninsured employers get on the right legal track can help. If you need an uninsured workers’ compensation defense attorney in Los Angeles, the expert legal team at Sacks Law Group, APC can assist you with navigating your legal options.
California has some of the most strict requirements concerning which employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. California labor law requires that all employers have workers’ compensation insurance, even if they only have one employee. This includes every employer who uses employee labor, including family members who work for the business.
The workers’ compensation insurance system in California is considered a “no-fault” insurance system. This means that insurance coverage is available in the aftermath of a workplace injury, regardless of who was at fault for the injury. If the employee was at fault, then they are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. They will be entitled to workers’ compensation coverage if a coworker or the employer was at fault for an injury.
A major benefit of having workers’ compensation insurance is that this system generally prevents an employee from filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer to obtain compensation. While paying for workers’ compensation insurance premiums may seem like a burden upfront, having this insurance is certainly beneficial in the event a workplace injury occurs.
California state law requires that employers carry workers’ compensation insurance in the event of an injured or ill employee making a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Sole proprietorships—those individuals whose sole employee is themselves, i.e., the self-employed—do not require workers’ compensation insurance to be carried, but these are the only exception to the rule. All employers with at least one employee must, by law, carry workers’ compensation insurance—and those who fail to do so can face serious penalties.
Penalties for not having workers’ compensation in California are severe. Under section 3700.5 of the California Labor Code, employers could be charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense if an employee is injured and the employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance. This misdemeanor charge is punishable by a fine of not less than $10,000 or up to one year in county jail or both.
However, the criminal penalties are only one aspect of the punishments that can be doled out by the state. An employer who fails to provide workers’ compensation insurance can also face fines of up to $100,000. The California Labor Department can assess a penalty against an employer of either:
If an injured employee files a workers’ compensation claim with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board in California, an employer could face significant penalties if they did not have workers’ compensation at the time the injury occurred. This includes a penalty of up to $10,000 per employee on the payroll at the time the injury occurred. Even if an injured worker is not entitled to receive compensation for their injury, the employer could still face a fine of $2,000 per employee on their payroll at the time the injury incident occurred.
In addition to these harsh penalties, California regulators can force an employer to stop operating until they obtain workers’ compensation coverage. Failing to abide by this order from the state will result in a misdemeanor charge that is punishable by up to 60 days in jail or a fine of up to $10,000.
Losing your business is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potentially negative outcomes as an uninsured employer. There is also the possibility that you could face legal action taken against you in civil court, resulting in having to pay out steep court-compelled fines, and you could even face criminal charges in some cases. These potential penalties can often add up to a sum that is far greater than the cost of carrying workers’ compensation insurance in the first place. However, risk management counseling with a knowledgeable attorney can help uninsured employers avoid some of these penalties.
Employers who are currently uninsured can take steps to get their businesses on the right track in the event of an employee filing a workers compensation claim, and our attorneys can help. We offer legal counseling in risk management to our uninsured clients, helping them to become informed about how to mitigate their legal issues and avoid strict penalties due to labor code or penal code violations. If you would like to learn more about risk management services, contact us for a consultation.
We are here to help if you need an uninsured workers’ compensation defense attorney in Los Angeles or anywhere else in southern California. Our attorneys specialize in defending their clients in all matters pertaining to workers’ compensation labor laws, including those employers who are currently uninsured and are looking to mitigate their risks and build a defense against legal action being taken by employees or government entities. If you need legal assistance with a workers’ compensation matter, give us a call today.