Missouri workers’ compensation law requires all employers with five or more employees, and all construction companies with any employees at all, to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, not all employers follow the rules. Many see workers’ compensation insurance premiums as an unnecessary or too costly expense. When they do not have insurance and you get hurt on the job, it becomes more difficult to get the compensation that you need. While the case is tougher, you do have options and may be able to file both a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit. Additionally, your employer can face criminal penalties.
Here are the avenues that you can take.
You Can File a Personal Injury Claim
The whole idea behind workers’ compensation law is to make it quick and easy for injured workers to get the medical care that they need and to cover at least some of their other losses. This involves a trade-off: Employers have to carry workers’ compensation insurance and submit to an expedited claims process that generally does not ask who was responsible for the injury, while employees agree not to file a personal injury claim in court against their employer.
Therefore, if an employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, they are not upholding their end of the bargain. If they are not doing their part, you do not have to do yours. Filing a personal injury claim against an employer who does not carry insurance is a common course to take.
Unfortunately, without that source of insurance to pay for a settlement or verdict, it can be difficult to recover all of what you are entitled to receive.
Look for a Statutory Employer
Your employer is primarily liable for your injuries if you get hurt on the job. However, a statutory employer is secondarily liable under Missouri Statute 287.040. A company other than your uninsured employer can be your statutory employer if all three of the following requirements are met:
- The work you performed was under a contract,
- You were hurt on or about the company’s premises, and
- You were hurt while performing work that is in the usual course of the company’s business.
The law makes statutory employers liable for the injuries of the employees of other companies that they contract with for two reasons:
- It gives hurt workers another source of compensation, and
- It pressures companies to only contract with other companies that have workers’ compensation insurance.
File a Claim Against the Second Injury Fund
You can also file a workers’ compensation claim against the Second Injury Fund if your employer is uninsured. However, these claims only cover your medical expenses, not any disability benefits for lost wages.
If you are successful, the Second Injury Fund can then seek reimbursement from your employer. By that time, though, you will have gotten your share.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve Western Missouri
In spite of the fact that Missouri Statute 287.128(7) makes it a crime to not carry workers’ compensation insurance when required to do so, many employers still make that decision. When they do, their workers pay the price.
The workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office can help. Contact them online or call them at (816) 875-9373 for help in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, or the rest of western Missouri.