In the State of California, an employee who suffers a work-related injury or illness has the right to collect benefits for lost wages, medical bills, and the loss of future earning capacity. By law, all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance or a certificate to self-insure, and if they do not, they risk serious consequences, including criminal prosecution and expensive litigation. But what options does an injured worker have if the employer is not legally insured?
Read on for how to move forward with your workers’ compensation case if your employer does not carry workers’ comp insurance.
WHAT IF MY EMPLOYER IS UNINSURED?
If you have been injured on the job and your employer has failed to insure properly, you can still receive workers’ comp benefits from the State of California’s Uninsured Employers Benefit Trust Fund (UEBTF). This is a special fund used to pay benefits to employees of illegally insured employers. The claims process is more complicated than it is when an employer has proper insurance, but you can still get the benefits you’re entitled to if you follow these 11 steps carefully.
1. COMPLETE THE DWC-1 CLAIM FORM
Keep a copy for your records. Hand deliver, or send three copies to your employer by certified mail, return-receipt requested. If you hand deliver your document, make a note of who you gave it to, along with the date and time you gave it to them.
2. VERIFY YOUR EMPLOYER’S LACK OF INSURANCE COVERAGE.
Search here to determine if your employer had workers’ comp insurance at the time of your injury. You’ll need the name of your employer (the business name or the owner’s name), the business address, and the date of your injury. Some employers are self-insured. You can use your employer’s name or SI certificate number to search here.
3. GATHER INFORMATION TO SUPPORT YOUR CLAIM.
This will include medical reports, medical bills, proof of employment at the date of your injury, and a list of witnesses, if possible.
4. FILE YOUR APPLICATION.
Pick up the packet of forms from your local Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) office, and complete your application of claim. It’s important to fill out all the required paperwork along with your application so that the process of opening your case can go smoothly. Once you file and mail your application, you’ll receive confirmation in the mail along with your case number.
5. COMPLETE THE FORMS.
The additional forms in your packet must be filled out carefully according to their instructions. These forms include:
- Declaration of readiness to proceed
- Special notice of lawsuit
- Petition to join party defendant
6. COMPILE THE FORMS
You’ll need to put these documents in a package to serve your employer. Be sure to follow the correct order when compiling the documents in the package.
7. MAKE COPIES.
Before you serve your employer with these documents, you’ll need to make at least three copies of everything the package, including additional copies for each partner if your employer is part of a partnership.
8. SERVE YOUR EMPLOYER.
It’s best to use a professional serving company to do this, but if you choose to do it yourself, your information packet will provide instructions on exactly how. Be sure to follow them to the letter.
9. FILE YOUR PACKET WITH THE WCAB.
After you receive proof of service, file a copy of the packet at the nearest WCAB district office.
10. REQUEST YOUR BENEFITS.
Send a copy of the packet and a letter requesting benefits from the UETBF. They are not required to send benefits before the judge issues an award, but they may decide to if you ask.
11. RETAIN A COPY OF THE PACKET FOR YOUR RECORDS.
In addition to these steps, you can file a complaint against your employer for the violation of labor laws by using this complaint form. You also have the option of suing your employer in civil court.
UNINSURED EMPLOYERS FUND IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
In an ideal world, all employers would adhere to the laws and regulations regarding worker safety and the rights of injured employees. While the failure of an employer to follow the law can result in heavy fines and criminal prosecution, it also burdens the injured worker with a more complicated experience in the workers’ comp system.
At The Law Office of Matthew Russell, we can help shoulder the burden so you can focus on recovery. We have over four decades of specialized experience in helping injured workers collect the benefits they deserve. We’ll do the same for you. For more information or to set up a consultation, give us a call at (619) 544-1506 today.