Regular readers know we stress the importance of reporting all workplace injuries. As we noted in a previous post, state law requires workers to notify employers about injuries as soon as possible after they occur. Filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits, if one is made, must occur within two years of the injury, or the date you determined your illness or injury was work related.
Considering how complicated the process can be, it begs the question: What happens to my claim if my employer goes out of business? There are several possible answers. The one that might apply to you depends on the status of your claim at the time your employer closes its doors.
Presuming your employer complied with the law and carried the required coverage, you will be able to file for the benefits due to you. Once approved, benefit payments come from an insurer, not the employer.
If your employer did not comply with the law and did not carry required coverage, you will still be able to file for your benefits. The Uninsured Employers Fund handles those cases where employers do not have coverage.
An employer going out of business can have adverse effects on a claim in some cases. For example, if the closure happens after you file your claim but before you get a final determination, benefits could be delayed while the insurer seeks needed information.
Another point of concern is the nature of the work you do and whether you are on a track for returning to the workforce. Those with unique skills might have a hard time finding comparable work anywhere else in the area once they recover. Yet, the insurer might stick by the original return-to-work expectation and disrupt benefit payments.
By working with skilled legal counsel, you protect your rights to benefits, regardless of your employer's status.