Established Attorney Advises California Employers on Workers’ Compensation Requirements
Knowledgeable San Diego business lawyer helps keep your company in compliance
In California, every business with at least one employee must satisfy the requirement of California Labor Code §3700 to either purchase workers’ compensation insurance or receive permission to self-insure. (Roofers who have no employees are nevertheless required to carry workers’ comp for themselves.) However, if you’re an employer, this is just the start of your obligations, which you need to fulfill or face harsh penalties and potentially crippling liability. At the Law Office of Edward W. Freedman, I work with employers to ensure compliance and reduce their exposure to risks. Drawing on more than 15 years of practical business law experience, I advise you on your rights and your duties on all issues related to workers’ compensation. I also represent workers in claims against uninsured employers.
Penalties for employers who do not insure their workers
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program that protects employees by providing medical care and other benefits while shielding employers from liability lawsuits alleging negligence. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, but all bets are off if the employer fails to insure.
An employer in California who fails to purchase a workers’ comp policy or arrange for self-insurance is guilty of a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $10,000 and up to one year in jail. The fine for a second offense is $50,000. The consequences are even worse if a worker is injured and the employer is found to be uninsured:
- The employer is legally liable for payment of all medical bills.
- The employee can file a lawsuit wherein the employer is presumed negligent and cannot assert a defense of contributory negligence.
- The Director of Industrial Relations can impose a fine of $10,000 per worker for compensable injuries, up to $100,000, or a fine of $2,000 if the injury is not compensable.
The legal costs of sorting out such a mess can also be substantial. The bottom line is: don’t operate a business in California without appropriate insurance. My office can answer all your questions about purchasing workers’ comp. Rates can vary substantially from insurer to insurer, but I can point you toward reliable carriers who charge reasonable premiums.
Employer’s obligation at the point of hire
Employers are required to provide a state-approved information brochure to new full- and part time employees outlining their rights under workers’ compensation. Topics covered include:
- Notice that an employer’s discrimination against employees who assert their rights under the state’s workers’ compensation law is illegal
- Outline of benefits
- Instructions on what to do if they are injured on the job
- Details about their rights to medical treatment
- Instructions on resolving disputes including the worker’s right to retain an attorney
You must also post a Notice to Employees in a conspicuous place on the worksite. My office can help you with these and all other compliance issues.
What to do if a worker injury occurs
An employer has a number of duties when he learns a worker has been injured:
- Provide a claim form (DWC form 1) within one working day of learning about an injury or illness.
- When the worker returns the form, the employer must complete a portion and give a copy to the employee.
- Complete form DLSR 5020 and file with the claims administrator within five days.
Keep in touch with the employee about the claim. You cannot simply assume the administrator is handling everything. You can also be of great assistance in getting your employee back to work, which is mutually beneficial because it reduces insurance costs and gets the worker back to earning full pay. I can review California’s return-to-work regulations and provide individualized advice for your specific employee’s situation, including transitional light work where appropriate, being careful not to violate restrictions in the workers’ treatment plan.
San Diego law firm protects employer rights throughout the process
Much emphasis is put on the rights of the injured worker, and properly so. But employers also have rights, especially when it comes to potentially fraudulent claims. Workers are entitled to reasonable and necessary medical treatment and to disability benefits when they are unable to work. But it is an unfortunate reality that certain workers and healthcare providers take advantage of the system. If you suspect a worker is demanding unnecessary treatment, feigning disability, and/or unreasonably delaying a return to work, I can help investigate the claim and defend your interests.
Contact an experienced San Diego business lawyer for guidance on workers’ compensation
The Law Office of Edward W. Freedman provides reliable guidance to employers on the full range of workers’ compensation issues in California. Call me today at 858-223-7259 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation. My office is located at 4540 Kearny Villa Road, just off Route 163 at the Balboa Avenue exit.