Workers’ Comp: Employers’ Responsibilities – FindLaw

In most states, employers are required to purchase insurance for their employees from a workers’ compensation insurance carrier. In some states, larger employers with enough assets are allowed to self-insure, or act as their own insurance companies, while smaller companies (with fewer than three or four employees) are exempt. When a worker is injured, his or her claim is filed with the insurance company (or self-insuring employer), which pays medical and disability benefits according to a state-approved formula. Unless they fall within limited, exempt categories, employers without workers’ compensation insurance are subject to fines, criminal prosecution, and civil liability. See FindLaw’s Workers’ Compensation Basics section for additional articles. Penalties There may be instances where you may sue your employer instead, but workers’ compensation is considered the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries in most states. This is why failure to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage can result in steep sanctions against the offending employer, including: Fines; Criminal prosecution; Personal liability of the employer for any workers’ compensation benefits due injured workers; and, An employee’s exercising the option to sue the employer rather than file a compensation claim. Duties In addition to providing workers’ compensation coverage, in most states, employers must perform some, if not all, of the following duties: Post a notice of compliance with workers’ compensation laws in a conspicuous place at each job site; Provide immediate emergency medical treatment for employees who sustain on-the-job injuries; Furnish further medical attention if an injured worker is unable to select a doctor or advises the employer in writing of a desire not to do so; Complete a report of the injury and mail it to the nearest workers’ compensation board office. A copy of the report should also be mailed to the employer’s insurance company. An employer who refuses or neglects to make an injury report may be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine; Make a written report of every accident resulting in personal injury that causes a loss of time from regular duties beyond the working day or shift on which the accident occurred or that requires medical treatment beyond first aid or more than two treatments by a doctor or persons rendering first aid; Comply with all requests for further information regarding injured workers by the workers’ compensation board or the insurance company, such as statements of the employee’s earnings before and after the accident, reports of the date of the employee’s return to work, or other reports that may be required to determine the employee’s work status following the injury. Employer’s Duty Not to Retaliate Although workers’ compensation laws provide remedies to injured employees, they also protect employers, as they are designed to be the only remedy that injured employees may seek from their employers. Even so, employers often appear to frown on employees who file workers’ compensation benefit claims, and some blatantly discriminate against such employees. To protect employees from employers who discriminate against, harass, or unjustly terminate injured employees, most states prohibit employers from punishing, discriminating against, or discharging employees who exercise their rights under workers’ compensation laws, and allow employees to bring civil actions against their employers for the tort of “retaliatory discharge.” If an employee believes he or she has been discriminated against or discharged in retaliation for exercising rights under workers’ compensation laws, he or she may have a claim against his or her employer for retaliatory discharge. In a retaliatory discharge suit, the employee must convince a judge or jury that it was more likely than not that he/she was wrongfully terminated. However, the employee does not have to prove that the workers’ compensation claim is the sole reason for the discharge. The test is usually whether the employer’s action is rooted substantially or significantly in the employee’s exercise of rights under workers’ compensation laws. Besides termination, retaliation may take the form of more subtle types of discriminatory treatment, such as demotion or salary reduction. Injured employees are protected from discriminatory conduct immediately after an injury and before a formal workers’ compensation claim is filed. An employee’s cause of action may be successful even though all the employee did was give notice to the employer of a claim.


About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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