All Van Nuys employers are required under California law to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, which makes being an uninsured employer a risky proposition. Under the California Labor Code, employers must carry this insurance from the moment they begin employing people and for the remainder of the time that they have people in their employ.
An employer’s obligation to its employees in California can be met in one of two ways—by obtaining liability coverage or by contacting California’s Industrial Relations to get a certificate of consent to self-insure. When employers fail to take one of these steps to hedge themselves against liability, they are seen as illegally insured employers in the eyes of the California courts. If you are an employer who has not secured insurance coverage, then you may find yourself in need of an uninsured employers attorney.
Workers’ comp is typically the remedy for California employees who become injured at work. However, when an employer is uninsured, the employee usually files a claim in civil court, seeking damages for his injuries in addition to benefits from workers’ compensation. Unlike a workers comp claim, a civil claim can be much more expensive to settle, since, in addition to the loss of wages and medical costs, it may include compensatory awards and, in some cases, punitive damages. Any legal costs are generally also awarded to the successful employee filing a civil claim against an uninsured employer. Keep in mind that it is possible for an injured worker to bring both a civil and workers’ comp case at the same time, but any compensation received for one claim will be deducted from the other.
The onus is on the employer to provide proof of insurance for the affected worker or face penalties as a result. If this insurance or information to prove its existence is not provided to the proper requesting authorities, then civil penalties may result. In some cases, California courts issue a stop order against the uninsured employer, who may also be levied a fine of up to $1,500 for each employee on the payroll.
If the insurance has lapsed for more than one week in a calendar year, then the employer may be given a citation. In this case, the penalty for the uninsured employer is twice the amount of the workers’ compensation premiums that would have been charged to the employer during the non-compliant period.
In addition, during workers’ compensation proceedings, if the uninsured employer is found to have willfully failed in obtaining insurance, then the benefits paid to the worker are calculated at a 10 percent increase.
Uninsured employers may also be criminally prosecuted for failing to secure required insurance for employees. This misdemeanor offense can come with a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine that’s equivalent to up to twice the amount of the required insurance premium or $10,000, whichever is greater.
Uninsured employers face claims that are quite complex and that require knowledgeable and experienced counsel and advice. Reach out to the Van Nuys uninsured employers attorneys at Sacks Law Group, APC, for help navigating any claim filed against you as an uninsured employer. You can contact us for a consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 310-216-7778.