In Missouri, most employers are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. By paying premiums to their insurance carrier, these companies ensure that injured workers have a large source of funding to recover compensation for their workplace injuries.
Companies that are required to carry this insurance but who refuse to do so can face criminal penalties.
Nevertheless, some companies still choose not to have workers’ compensation insurance.
Here is what penalties they can face and what you can do if you learn that your employer is not following the law.
Criminal Penalties for Not Carrying Workers’ Compensation Insurance
First off, employers who are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance but who knowingly fail to do so are committing a criminal offense. Under Missouri Statute 287.128(7), a first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, the most severe type of non-felony offense, which carries up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Employers who violate any legal obligation under Missouri workers’ compensation law, and who then knowingly fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance face even higher criminal penalties. Such a subsequent offense is a Class E felony, which carries up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Financial Penalties for the Offense
In addition to a criminal fine and the potential for jail time, employers who knowingly do not carry workers’ compensation insurance also have to pay a civil penalty to the state of Missouri. Under Missouri Statute 287.128(7), this penalty is three times the annual premium payment that the employer would have had to pay for workers’ compensation insurance, or $50,000, whichever is higher.
Liability for the Costs of the Workplace Injury
Electing not to carry workers’ compensation insurance also opens an employer up to personal injury lawsuits for workplace injuries. Workers’ compensation law is a tradeoff between workers and their employers – workers get an expedited claims process, while employers are not liable for certain types of financial damages, like your pain and suffering.
However, if your employer is not upholding their end of the tradeoff, there is nothing preventing you from filing a lawsuit to recover all of the compensation that you would be entitled to receive.
Not All Employers Must Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance
However, it is important to remember that not all employers in Missouri are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Only those that have five or more employees must carry insurance, unless they are in the construction industry, in which case they must have insurance if they have one or more. There are also a limited number of exemptions in play for sole proprietors and employees who are family members. Additionally, employers can self-insure their company, instead.
What to Do If Your Employer is Uninsured
If you learn that your employer is uninsured for workers’ compensation, you can file a complaint with the Fraud and Noncompliance Unit of the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation.
If you have been hurt at work and find that your employer is uninsured, you have legal options. Call the workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online to come up with the best plan for getting the compensation that you need and deserve.