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Claims Without Coverage: Recovering From Uninsured Employers

Workers’ compensation claims can be difficult to work through for the average person.  Typically, when a person is filing a claim they are often under increasing stress from the implications of their limitations after being injured, not to mention they are dealing with the physical pain associated with their injury.  With all of these factors weighing on your mind, it is easy to take for granted that your employer is covered with workers’ compensation insurance.  According to The Business Advocate, a Nevada Department of Business and Industry Publication, most all employers in Nevada are required to have workers’ compensation insurance, with few exceptions.  However, this is not always the case.  In fact, although employers may be subjecting themselves to a fine of up to $15,000 and premium penalties, some employers choose not to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

 

Workers’ Compensation Fraud

Cases of workers’ compensation fraud have become increasingly prevalent as of late.  The Las Vegas Sun reported a $7 million workers’ compensation fraud and tax evasion scam occurring in San Diego.  In that case, a couple owned an Irvine-based hotel cleaning service.  The couple threatened their employees with being terminated if they were injured on the job.  In addition, the couple did not provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees. Currently the couple are being jailed with bail set at $1 million each.

 

Even locally, there are businesses with workers’ compensation issues. In a previous blog post the dangers of cryotherapy were discussed, highlighting the incident at Rejuvinice (a Las Vegas spa) in which an employee was found dead. 8 News Now is reporting the same spa is being investigated for not having workers’ compensation insurance for its employees.  According to Suhair Sayegh, a member of the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations (NDIR), the NDIR usually only knows of businesses who are not in compliance “after the fact,” or after someone is injured.

 

What to do if Your Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If you are injured on the job and your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance you have a couple of options.  You may elect to be covered under the Nevada Uninsured Employers Claims Account (NUECA). The Division of Industrial Relations website states that an employee, if they are injured on the job, may recover under NUECA if they choose to. However, an injured employee may elect not to recover under NUECA and instead sue independently. Usually an injured employee is unable to do this because of Nevada’s exclusive remedy defense under NRS 616A.020, but an employer is unable to use this defense if they do not have adequate workers’ compensation coverage.

 

If you are injured on the job and your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to file a civil suit. An attorney may be able to help you decide if you should seek a claim under NUECA, or file a civil suit against the employer. By filing a civil suit, the employer can raise common law defenses which it normally would not be able to if you had just filed a workers’ compensation claim. You should contact a licensed Nevada workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your claim moving forward.

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