Why Doesn’t My Job Offer Workers’ Comp?April 12, 2021
Just about every employer in Louisiana is required to provide workers’ compensation to their employees, and nearly every worker is covered, regardless of fault, when they are injured at work or while performing work duties.
Unfortunately, “just about every” employer isn’t every employer, and “nearly every” worker isn’t every worker. If you are injured at work and expect to be able to get your medical bills and lost wages covered by your employer, it can be a shock to discover you are among the tiny group excluded from these benefits. And in some cases, you may be wrongfully excluded.
Who Is Excluded from Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
For the most part, all public and private employers in Louisiana are legally required to purchase workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, whether those employees are full-time, part-time, or seasonal, and regardless of how many or how few employees they have—even if there is only a single employee.
However, the state does have a few limited exceptions, which include:
- People employed directly by a private homeowner (such as a nanny or groundskeeper)
- Some musicians and performers
- Railroad employees, when engaging in interstate or foreign commerce
- Crews of crop dusters and planes engaging in other spraying operations
- Unpaid board members of non-profits
- Real estate brokers
- Employees already protected by other federal labor laws, such as the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
I’m Not in an Excluded Category, But My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation
If your employer is supposed to provide workers’ compensation benefits, but doesn’t, they could face serious penalties.
Louisiana employers who fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance can be fined up to $250 per employee for a first offense, and up to $500 per employee for additional offenses. They could also be hit with criminal charges and could even be prevented from conducting any further business until they purchase workers’ compensation and provide proof to a court that they did so.
My Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Insurance But Says I’m Not Eligible
As independent contractors are not considered employees, sometimes employers purposefully misclassify their employees as independent contractors on paper to avoid having to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Even if your employer classifies you as an independent contractor, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation, especially if you are performing work that includes manual labor.
Employers who do so could have civil and criminal charges and could even face jail time.
Are you unsure whether you should be classified as an employee or contractor? Generally, whoever dictates the terms of the work is the “employer.” If the business determines when the work is done, how the work is done, how the worker is paid, and provides the tools and supplies, it is very likely the worker is an employee and not a contractor. But if the worker brings their own tools, determines their own hours, and so on, then it’s more likely they are a “self-employed” contractor. It is important to consult with an attorney to determine if you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
What Do I Do If I’m Hurt and My Job Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Workers’ compensation is designed to protect both workers and employers, because as long as an employer offers workers’ compensation, they can’t be sued by their employees, and those employees can only get compensation through workers’ compensation. However, when an employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation, they can be sued by workers through a typical personal injury lawsuit.
Need Help After a Work Injury? Our Louisiana Workers’ Comp Attorneys Can Help
Over the years, we’ve seen all kinds of situations arising from workplace injuries, from employers who misclassified employees to employers who tried to blame workers for their own injuries and refused to pay.
Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for our clients, we didn’t let them get away with it. And we want to do the same for you. When you’re suffering from a workplace injury and need compensation, call our firm. Best of all, your case review is always free.