red hard hat on pavement

When you get hurt at work, the first thing you’re probably going to do is talk to your boss about filing a workers’ compensation claim to get your medical care covered. This is the route most people take because, in most cases and with few exceptions, the law requires that you go through workers’ comp instead of filing a lawsuit. However, if your employer doesn’t carry workers’ comp insurance or makes it difficult for you to file a claim, you might have grounds for a lawsuit. 

If you’ve been injured at work and you can’t get workers’ comp benefits for some reason, whether you can’t apply or your claim was denied, here’s what you can do. 

Contact a workers’ compensation attorney immediately 

Before you do anything, contact an attorney to discuss your case. A legal professional will know things you aren’t aware of pertaining to the legality of you filing a lawsuit. Don’t rely on information found through Google to determine whether or not you can sue your employer because situations differ and only a lawyer can tell you the correct answer. 

A workers’ comp attorney will give you their professional opinion during your consultation. If they think you can file a lawsuit, it’s worth pursuing because if your employer is in violation of the law, winning your case can bring you a significant financial award. 

If the attorney you consult determines that you do need to file a workers’ comp claim, and you can’t file a lawsuit, they can still help you. For instance, if you’re entitled to file a claim but your employer is preventing you from doing so or discouraging you from doing it, that could be the foundation of a lawsuit against your employer. A workers’ comp attorney can also help get your claim approved if it was unfairly denied. 

So, no matter your situation, connecting with a lawyer will help you figure out what steps you should take next. Most attorneys offer free consultations, so you have nothing to lose. 

Make all of your communications in writing 

If your boss is making it hard for you to file a workers’ comp claim, start communicating in writing to establish a paper trail of the issue. Instead of talking in person, start emailing them at their work email address to create a permanent record in writing. 

In addition to moving communications to email, document everything your boss says and does regarding your situation. For example, if they tell you it’s better not to file the claim and promise to cover your medical bills out of pocket, document that statement with the date it was communicated to you. 

Some employers offer to pay for an injured worker’s medical bills just to avoid having a claim on their policy, but others do it maliciously. Those who do it with malice usually tell the injured employee to file a claim with their personal insurance and say the accident happened at home. Then they fire the employee and there’s nothing they can do because it’s on record that the injury happened in their house. 

Always appeal a denied claim 

If your workers’ comp claim is denied, don’t take that as the final answer. Many insurance companies unjustly deny valid claims, hoping people will just drop it and move on. Don’t let that happen to you. If you have a valid claim that should be covered, don’t give up – appeal your denial. With the help of a good workers’ compensation attorney, you’ll have a better chance of winning your appeal. 

Report your employer 

With the exception of employers who are legally exempt, it’s worth reporting your employer for not carrying a workers’ comp insurance policy. This is a legal requirement for most businesses and the penalties for not having coverage are steep. 

You could get fired for reporting them, but if your employer doesn’t care enough about their workers to get insurance, you probably don’t want to work there anyway. This is a good route if you choose not to pursue a lawsuit for some reason. If you’re filing a lawsuit against them, they will be forced to comply with the law or face fines and/or lose their business license. 

Take fast action 

Regardless of how you choose to act, don’t wait. Time is of the essence. Act fast whether you’re hiring an attorney, appealing a denied claim, or reporting your employer for not carrying workers’ compensation insurance. If you wait too long, the statute of limitations might run out, eliminating your ability to pursue the issue further.