“Help! My Georgia employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance. What now?”
An employer is required to have workers’ compensation coverage in Georgia if they have 3 or more employees. Unfortunately, not all employers follow the law and there are many employers operating in Georgia without the appropriate coverage.
If you are injured on the job and your boss or company states that they don’t have coverage, it doesn’t mean that you are necessarily out of luck.
Report your injury anyway
The first thing you need to do is to report your injury to your employer. Just because they say they don’t have workers’ compensation coverage doesn’t mean that’s true. Your employer might lie and tell you they don’t have workers’ compensation coverage because they are afraid of their premium increasing.
Alternatively, your employer might be legally operating under a different name which does have coverage.
Chain of workers’ compensation coverage
There is another way that you can recover if your employer does indeed fail to have the appropriate workers’ compensation coverage. There may be a statutory employer above your employer in the ladder of employers at the job. In other words, your employer may be a subcontractor of another employer who actually does have workers’ compensation. Under Georgia law, you are able to go up the chain of command to find coverage.
Filing a claim against an uninsured employer
If your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation, and there’s not another entity to file against, then you can bring a claim against your employer and attempt to recover your damages. In the absence of workers’ compensation insurance, your employer is directly responsible for your medical bills and indemnity benefits as if they were the insurance company.
At times, it may be difficult to recover against them, but it is still worth it to file notice with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation for a number of reasons.
- Firstly, it preserves your rights in case they are able to financially afford to pay you.
- Secondly, the “exclusive remedy” doctrine still applies and your only avenue to recovery may be through the workers’ compensation system.
- Thirdly, the employer will be subject to the jurisdiction of the criminal fraud unit of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. It’s actually illegal not to have coverage if you should have.
Contact a skilled Georgia workers’ compensation attorney
Even if your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation, you may still have a claim. Contact the experienced Athens workers’ compensation lawyers at Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys to discuss your case further if you have any questions.