In the State of Florida, all employers with four or more employees are mandated to obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance, with special requirements for businesses in the agricultural and construction industries.
Note that businesses in the construction industry will need to carry coverage if they employ one or more employees, while those in the agricultural industry will need to obtain coverage if they work with at least six regular employees or 12 seasonal workers who work more than 30 days during a season but no more than a total 45 days in a calendar year.
Have it in mind that worker’s compensation insurance remains one of the most valuable policies a business needs to protect their employee’s from injury and the employer from lawsuits. A good number of people assume that general liability is the most critical, and it is to prevent external loss, but it does nothing to prevent the employer from a lawsuit involving an employee.
Florida complies with the same minimum requirements as most states to a limit of $100,000 per occurrence, $500,000 aggregate, and $100,000 per occurrence by disease. Note that the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law (WCL) notes all of the requirements for Workers’ Comp in Florida, and the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) monitors, enforces, and administers the program.
Ensuring that your company complies is very necessary, especially since there are serious penalties and fines for those who fail to abide by state regulations. According to reports, there are two ways that the state would learn of a business’s failure to purchase insurance. The first is via a random inspection, and the second is employee injury.
Penalties for Not Having Workers Compensation Insurance in Florida
Unlike many other types of insurance, workers’ compensation in the State of Florida carries massive penalties for not complying. These penalties include;
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Fines and Fees
Have it in mind that the government can instigate civil action against employers or businesses that violate workers’ compensation rules. Most often, they impose fines and other fees on these employers or businesses.
For example, such an employer will be expected to pay twice of what they would have paid in premiums within the past two years. Also, note that a fee of $5,000 is assessed for workers who have been falsely classified as independent contractors.
Once it is noted that a business does not have worker’s compensation insurance, investigators can also issue stop-work orders. This order ensures that the business doesn’t resume business operations until they abide by all necessary laws about worker’s compensation insurance.
The stop-work order will remain valid until the defaulting employer pays their penalty. Have in mind that violating a stop-work order is a crime that can result in criminal charges. This order can be issued where the employer:
- Hides or understates their payroll
- Misrepresents or conceals employee duties
- Fails to pay the right amount of premiums for their workers’ comp insurance policy.
Also, note that a good number of workers’ comp violations can result in criminal proceedings against the defaulting employer. Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act notes prohibited actions, and carrying out any of these actions can be a misdemeanor or felony. Also, note that Employees can face criminal prosecution for their own conduct.
When an employee is injured during their employment, that employee will be expected to go through the worker’s compensation process. This is where the exact amount an employee will receive for a particular injury is analyzed and determined. Howbeit, if you don’t have workers’ compensation, the employee is permitted to sue you and your company.
Note that in civil courts, the juries will be tasked with deciding the amount a plaintiff should be compensated for their injury. Have it in mind that suing tends to result in much larger verdicts compared to the worker’s compensation system.
Examples of Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Violations
In the state of Florida, business owners can violate workers’ compensation insurance laws in numerous ways. Below are vital highlights of some of such violations;
Conducting Business Without Insurance
Just as was noted above, all employers and businesses with four or more employees are mandated to obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Starting and running a business without workers’ comp insurance is a legal violation in the State of Florida.
Workers’ Compensation Fraud
You also need to understand that employers and their workers can both commit workers’ comp fraud in numerous ways. Fraud in all its forms is considered illegal irrespective of who commits it. In the State of Florida, the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) investigates these actions. An employee can act fraudulently by:
- Updating false work-related injury claims
- Amplifying the extent and implications of their wounds
- Working other jobs while receiving workers’ comp
Workers’ comp fraud can result in criminal prosecutions against the offender, and penalties for fraud are decided based on the monetary value of the fraud.
Most often, employers choose to misclassify their employees to avoid workers’ comp responsibilities. For instance, some business owners choose not to have to pay premiums for an independent contractor. Owing to that, they prefer to designate regular workers as independent contractors.
Retaliatory actions for filing workers’ comp claims are also against the law anywhere in the United States. Also, note that employers are known to dismiss or threaten to dismiss employees who file workers’ compensation claims.
Aside from that, the employee’s job is often threatened to prevent them from filing the claim. Have it in mind that it is illegal to refuse to hire a person just because they filed a comp claim in times past. Other workers’ comp violations include:
- Illegally obtaining a certificate of election of exemption
- Penalizing employees for cooperating with workers’ comp investigators
- Insurance carriers canceling comp policies because an injured worker returned to work
- Compelling employees to contribute to workers’ comp premiums
Failure to Pay Benefits
This is another violation that has to do with worker’s compensation insurance. Note that employers that fail to get quick and correct medical care for injured employees may face a fine of $2,500 per violation, to a maximum of $100,000.
Also note that failure to pay benefits will warrant a fine of 20 percent of the unpaid benefit installment plus 12 percent interest, and failure to pay uncontested medical bills within 45 days of receiving an invoice will cause a fine of $25 to $50 for each unpaid bill plus 12 percent interest.
In the state of Florida, have it in mind that failure to pay compensation due under a DWC award within seven days of the due date will result in fines of $50 to $100 plus 12 percent interest, and businesses who fail to meet any other requirements stated in the WCL may face fines of $2,500 per violation to a maximum of $100,000.
In the state of Florida, any business with four or more employees is expected to obtain workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of if those employees are part-time or full-time. Have it in mind that workers’ comp violation is a serious offense in Florida as the state is very dedicated to protecting its residents.