More than four million American workers are injured at their workplace every year. For this reason, almost every state requires businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which covers the medical bills, recovery costs, and partial lost wages of a worker who is injured on the job.
In Florida, the state mandates that businesses over certain employee minimums must carry workers’ compensation. It doesn’t matter whether those employees are part-time or full-time. Some of the state’s requirements include:
- Construction contractors must have insurance if they have one or more employees.
- Non-construction businesses must have insurance if they employ four or more people.
- Agricultural businesses must have insurance if there are six or more regular employees and/or a dozen seasonal workers who work more than 30 days in a calendar year.
By mandating workers’ comp insurance, the state of Florida provides an incentive for businesses to keep workers safe, and reduce the risk of lawsuits against employers. Small business owners often look for ways to cut costs and improve their bottom line, but the one area no employer should skimp is workers’ compensation insurance. You may be tempted to think of it as an unnecessary expense, especially if none of your workers has experienced any work-related injuries, but businesses that don’t carry coverage risk hefty fines and even jail time depending on the circumstances of the case.
What happens if the state discovers you don’t have insurance?
There are two ways the state can learn of your business’ failure to purchase insurance:
- Random inspections: The state regularly conducts inspections in all industries, but especially in high risk industries such as construction, medicine, and manufacturing. A business that is found not to have insurance will receive a citation.
- Employee injuries: Workers injured on the job can make a claim against their employer’s workers’ comp policy. If you don’t have compensation insurance, then an injured worker can legally sue your business.
If the state learns your business doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance or is carrying less insurance than it should, it will take civil action. The state will first issue a stop-work order to prevent your business from continuing operations until you comply with the law and pay the issued fine. The fine for a first offense is typically equal to twice the amount you would have paid in an annual premium.
An employer can face criminal charges if the state discovers that the company’s payroll is understated or concealed, workers’ duties are concealed or misrepresented, or there was a deliberate attempt to avoid paying workers’ comp premiums.
Employers suspected of workers’ compensation fraud should immediately consult an attorney. It is essential to never speak to any investigators or authorities without having first consulted an attorney because the consequences of a workers’ comp fraud conviction can be incredibly severe.
South Florida Workers’ Comp Fraud Attorney
Is your business accused of workers’ compensation fraud? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation with one of South Florida’s most experienced workers’ compensation fraud attorneys.