NC Ramp-Up of Uninsured Business Investigations may Help Injured Workers
Our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys believe that no workers who sustain on-the-job injuries should be forced to pay for those injuries — and state law agrees. With few exceptions, every business that employs at least three individuals is required to carry special insurance that pays medical treatment expenses, compensation for disability and death benefits for injured workers, regardless of fault.
When a workplace injury claim reveals that an employer does not carry the required insurance coverage, injured workers face a complex legal process to try to pay the expenses related to their injuries — often while they are unable to work. Since this type of incident happens more frequently than most people would imagine, the North Carolina Industrial Commission (the Commission) has initiated new ways to help protect workers.
NC Recently Announced Strong Action Against Uninsured Employers
In March 2015, the Commission announced that the fraud unit stepped up its investigation of uninsured businesses. At the time of the announcement, the ramp-up had been going on for about a year. Based solely on civil penalties collected from uninsured companies, the Commission noted that penalties increased by 43 percent between fiscal year 2013-2014. Even more dramatic was that the numbers showed a 621 percent increase from the collections for fiscal year 2011-2012.
The Commission credits a new fraud alerting tool called the Noncompliant Employer Targeting System (NETS) with its recent successes. This tool allows the Commission to collect data from various state agencies to identify potentially-noncompliant businesses and allows them to focus investigative efforts more precisely.
Of course, employers can face one or more of the following concerns when they do not carry the coverage:
- Stiff financial penalties
- Charges with misdemeanor crimes
- Charges with felony crimes
In fact, when uninsured businesses cannot pay the expenses related to employee injuries, it is possible that a successful lawsuit against them can force the business to close its doors in order to pay ordered awards.
Workers Should Take Proactive Action to Protect Themselves
As early as the first day of work, employees should take the time to confirm that their employers carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Employers are required by law to post information about this coverage in a public area of their buildings. For those workers who are employed by an outside company (such as a contracting agency), ask questions. Coverage must be carried by either the direct employer or the company where work is being performed.
In the event that no coverage is provided — or if that discovery is made after sustaining an injury, it is vital to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who knows the next steps to take. Call us at 800-948-0577 or use our convenient online contact form to learn how we can navigate the maze of legal procedures on your behalf.