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What if my employer does not have workers compensation insurance?

We have discussed in previous posts North Carolina workers' compensation law as it relates to the types of benefits that may be qualified for and the employers who are subject to the law. To recap on the latter topic, with only limited exceptions any employer having at least three employees must have workers' compensation insurance or qualify as being self-insured. The form of the employer's business makes little difference; sole proprietorships are as subject to the law as are major corporations.

There are only three ways by which an employer will not have a workers' compensation insurance policy: qualifying for self-insurance, qualifying for an exemption from the law, or by refusing to comply if it is subject to the law. As we have already addressed the various exemptions, we will not cover them again in detail here. 

Self-insurance may be accomplished by the employer going through the North Carolina Department of Insurance, or by being placed in a self-insured fund in the state.

The reasons why an employer that should carry workers' compensation insurance are multiple, and do not always involve or even suggest intentional wrongdoing. It may be possible that a small employer or a new business owner may not understand the legal requirement to carry insurance; it may be possible for an employer to make a mistake or to have a good-faith misapprehension about whether its use of contractors or subcontractors allows it to avoid the requirement; or an employer may mistakenly believe that it qualifies for one of the legally-recognized exemptions.

Regardless of the reason, however, an employer that is required to have workers' compensation or to at least be self-insured and fails to comply is subject to sanctions of as much as $100 per day until it brings itself into compliance.

If you have been injured on the job and believe that your employer does not have workers' compensation insurance when it should, there are two forms, Form 18 and Form 33, that you will need to file with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. For assistance with these forms, and with workers' compensation claims in general, it may also be helpful to retain the assistance of a workers compensation law firm.

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