Ohio law requires every employer with one or more employees to have workers’ compensation insurance. This means that they either must contribute to the Ohio State Insurance Fund, or insure themselves according to the strict guidelines set by the state. Workers compensation sets up a no-fault system, under which the employee is not required to prove that the employer negligently caused their injury. To obtain compensation from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), the injured employee needs only to show that the injury occurred at work, or was caused by work activities.
If you’re an injured worker and need help getting through the Ohio workers’ compensation insurance system, contact the Ohio workers’ comp lawyers with Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA. We have decades of experience successfully handling workers’ compensation claims for injured Ohio workers.
What Happens If an Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Comp Insurance?
According to Ohio Code section 4123-14-01, it is against the law for an employer to fail to make monthly premium payments to the state insurance fund, or to fail to comply with the requirements of self-insurance. Whatever money an employer might save by not complying with the insurance requirements will almost always be lost when the state takes notice.
The Ohio BWC will always seek to recover unpaid premiums to the state fund. To do this, they can place a lien on the employer’s property. This gives an incentive for the employer to pay the premiums because it risks losing its property to the state. In addition to using liens to recover back-payments, the BWC assesses penalties against non-compliant employers.
Each failure to pay the premium on time results in a $30 flat fee, in addition to a penalty charge of 15 percent of the amount due. Furthermore, the BWC assesses a penalty on employers that don’t file their payroll reports on time. The fee is one percent of the insurance premium of the corresponding month, an amount fixed between $3 and $5.
These fees can add up quickly, subjecting the employer to significant financial liabilities. Much like the Internal Revenue Service, the BWC’s goal is to encourage people to catch up with their payments and get back into compliance. According to Jim Wernecke, director of the special investigations department for the bureau: “If you’re struggling with your BWC premiums, reach out to our agency and work with us.”
When an employer fails to follow its repayment plan for its backlog of premiums, the BWC may bring legal action. An employer may be subjected to both criminal and civil liability in this case. The state may sue, often times collecting its judgment from the sale of the employer’s assets that were placed under lien. Additionally, state prosecutors may file criminal charges for fraud or theft, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Can an Employee File a Workers’ Comp Claim When the Employer is Uninsured?
Your ability to collect workers’ compensation is not affected by your employer’s failure to contribute to the state fund or to self-insure. In fact, the state of Ohio even has an uninsured employer fund for just this type of scenario. If the BWC realizes that your employer doesn’t have insurance, they will compensate you from the funds set aside for this purpose. The failure of your employer to have workers’ compensation insurance also gives you the possibility of suing them directly, without going through the workers’ compensation claim process.
When the BWC pays out benefits to you on behalf of a non-compliant employer, they will seek to recover what they paid from the employer. To do so, the BWC and the attorney general office prepare an affidavit describing the funds paid out, which is recorded in the office of the county recorder in each county where the employer owns property. The affidavit has the effect of placing a lien on all the property owned by the employer in that county. If the employer fails to reimburse the BWC, its property may be confiscated by the state.
Speak with an Ohio Workers’ Comp Lawyer Today
The Ohio workers’ compensation system often provides injured people with the compensation they deserve, but in some cases, it falls short. This is when you should seek out the services of the Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers of Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA.
If you have been injured while working for a non-compliant employer, call 419-625-7770 today for a free consultation.