One of the common questions that people ask our New Orleans workers comp lawyers is what happens if an employer does not carry workers compensation insurance. Injured workers are worried that they will have to pay for their medical care and miss wages at the same time.
However, an experienced attorney may be able to set the matters straight and get you the compensation you deserve. Here are the most important aspects that may influence your case:
The Lawyer Will Check That You Are Eligible for Workers Compensation
According to Louisiana law, all employers are required to carry workers comp insurance, even if they have only one employee. This applies to full-time, part-time, and temporary workers.
However, there are also excluded categories of workers. These categories are:
- Domestic workers hired directly by a private homeowner (nannies, cleaning staff)
- Real estate brokers paid on commission
- Railroad employees engaged in interstate or foreign commerce
- Some musicians and performers
- Crews of planes spraying crops
- Unpaid board members of non-profits and charities
- Employees protected by different schemes (Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act).
If you work in any of these capacities, then an attorney may identify other ways of getting compensation, because you are exempt from workers comp coverage.
You Must Make Sure You Are Hired as an Employee, Not an Independent Contractor
Many employers use this tactic so that they don’t procure workers compensation insurance. They tell you that you are hired, but have you sign an independent contractor agreement. This means that you are not eligible for workers comp benefits.
Only W-2 employees receive protection under the Louisiana workers comp system. However, even in this case, you should still keep up hope and consult with an experienced New Orleans workers comp attorney.
On several occasions, our lawyers were able to prove that the person was actually an employee, not an independent contractor. Thus, we could help them file a workers comp claim and receive benefits.
What If You Are Eligible, but Your Employer Doesn’t Have Workers Comp Coverage?
Employers who do not procure workers compensation for their employees are breaking the law and are liable to receive serious penalties. These penalties include:
- $250 fine per employee for the first offense
- $500 fine per employee for the second and subsequent offenses
- Being prevented from operating the business until they purchase workers comp insurance.
Moreover, if an employer chooses not to carry workers compensation coverage, they also give up the protection offered by this system against lawsuits.
You Can Sue Your Employer for Damages after a Workplace Accident
In the context of no workers comp insurance in place, your workplace accident becomes a regular personal injury case. Thus, you have the right to sue your employer and demand all the types of compensations allowed by personal injury laws:
- Medical care costs
- Lost wages
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering.
However, in this situation you have to prove the following elements:
- Your employer’s negligence for causing your accident (including failure to repair and maintain machinery)
- The fact that the workplace accident caused your injuries
- The fact that the injuries resulted in economic damages.
Will You Have to Go to Court?
Many employees are intimidated by the idea of taking their employer to court. They are afraid of losing their job and getting the reputation of a litigious person in the workforce. However, New Orleans lawyers know that these cases rarely go to trial. Most personal injury cases are resolved with a settlement.
Let a New Orleans Workers Comp Lawyer Explain Your Legal Rights!
A workplace accident often results in severe injuries, requiring expensive medical care. If your employer breaks the law by not carrying workers comp insurance, an experienced lawyer can help you protect your rights.
In some cases, the employer may have misclassified you as an independent contractor and claim you don’t qualify for benefits. If you are eligible for workers comp, we will help you file your claim.
We offer each new client a free case review, so call 504-420-2755 today to talk to an experienced New Orleans workers comp lawyer!