Companies in the North Carolina are facing stiff penalties if they fail to purchase required workers’ compensation insurance to pay for their employees’ workplace injuries and occupational illnesses, according to a recent report by the Raleigh News & Observer.
In the past year, more than 100 employers across the state have been charged with crimes for failing to carry the legally required workers’ compensation insurance, and more than $1 million in fines have been levied against uninsured employers, according to the article.
North Carolina state law requires all employers with three or more full-time or part-time employees to purchase workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. The cost of the insurance may not be passed along to workers.
Companies that fail to purchase the required coverage may be fined $100 per day while they lack the coverage and may be held directly responsible for paying an injured worker’s medical bills and disability costs.
The Industrial Commission, which is responsible for administering the state’s workers’ compensation system, has also begun bringing misdemeanor criminal charges against certain uninsured employers that had a history of going without insurance.
During the fiscal year that ended last June, the Industrial Commission investigated nearly 2,000 employers for failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Of those, 800 were brought into compliance, according to the News & Observer.
“The goal is to head it off and get to compliance before there’s an injury,” Andrew Heath, chairman of the Industrial Commission, told the newspaper.
The newspaper reported in 2012 that as many as 30,000 North Carolina employers lacked proper coverage.
Fines against uninsured employers have increased steeply in recent years. In the fiscal year that ended in June 2011, $59,925 in fines were collected from companies that lacked proper workers’ compensation insurance. That figure jumped to $992,000 in the fiscal year that ended last June.
“Commission leaders want the fines and criminal charges to signal a warning to the business community: get coverage or face consequences,” the News & Observer article states.
Workers’ compensation coverage is critical for individuals who get hurt on the job or suffer an occupational illness. Workers’ comp not only pays for related medical costs, but it also offers partial wage-replacement benefits to those who are unable to work for an extended period due to their work-related accident or illness. The system provides death benefits to the surviving family members of workers who die in workplace accidents or from occupational illnesses.
If you need help seeking the benefits you deserve after a workplace accident, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Grimes Teich & Anderson LLP today to learn more about how we can assist you with your case.