I had no Workers Compensation: California Uninsured Employers Fund
Category: Business and Money > Small Businesses
Asked by: benaiahone-ga
List Price: $100.00
13 Apr 2004 14:02 PDT
Expires: 13 May 2004 14:02 PDT
Question ID: 329698
I am a company in California that did not have Workers Compensation at the time an employee was ?injured?. However, I have been paying all his medical bills out of my own pocket because this is the least I could do. However, I can no longer pay since the company has closed down. I am looking for attorneys that specialize in helping employers, NOT employees, to represent me in talking to the Uninsured Employers Fund agency in Northern California. I am trying to find out that if the California Uninsured Employers Fund has been successful in reaching a civil judgment against me personally, will personal bankruptcy relinquish me of the financial burden? The California Uninsured Employers Fund is not aware, or has not attempted to come after me yet, but is it better to turn myself in instead of waiting for them to come to me first? And if so, should I us an attorney or should I just do it alone so that they dont think I am bringing in the bulldogs to fight for me? Is there anyone that has had experience with going to "court" where the Uninsured Employers Fund sued them and what were their tactics to help them? As much research possible is appreciated, thanks.
Re: I had no Workers Compensation: California Uninsured Employers Fund
Answered By: bobcooper-ga on 16 Apr 2004 17:09 PDT
Dear benaiahone-ga, A disclaimer: This is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney licensed in California and experienced in workers? compensation litigation. Addressing your third question first: All things considered, it is probably not advisable to ?turn yourself in? by reporting these facts to the Division of Workers' Compensation or the Uninsured Employers Fund unit. Ordinarily these agencies only begin investigations based on employee complaints ? and your former employee may not complain to these agencies. Moreover, the Uninsured Employers Fund ordinarily becomes involved in a case like this only after an employee files suit in civil court or initiates proceedings before the Worker Compensation Appeals Board. Briefly ? the Uninsured Employers Fund is a pool which pays judgments awarded to employees by the WCAB when the employer fails to satisfy the judgment. That is, if an employer fails to pay an award won by an injured employee before the WCAB, then the Uninsured Employers Fund pays the award and, in turn, brings suit against the employer to recoup the payout. Thus, the Uninsured Employers Fund is neither the injured employee?s first recourse nor the employer?s first problem. If the Uninsured Employers Fund then wins a judgment against the employer, this debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. This issue was decided by the Ninth Circuit in In Re Camille, 94 F.3d 1330 (1996). This addresses your second question. Next, addressing your first and last questions: Because, as I mentioned, the Uninsured Employers Fund is neither the injured employee?s first recourse nor the employer?s first problem, you will probably want the assistance of a lawyer with experience in representing employers through various stages of workers? compensation litigation and in different forums. Using a tool like Martindale-Hubbell (martindale.com), identify lawyers and law firms that practice workers compensation law exclusively and advertise representing employers rather than employees. I find 4 law offices in northern California particularly fitting these criteria. In no particular order: Cuneo, Black, Ward & Missler 8880 Cal Center Drive Sacramento 916-363-8822 Harbinson Tune Kasselik 100 Bush Street San Francisco 415-986-3992 Antoinette Gary Mills, 2 North Second Street San Jose 408-795-1515 H S Law Group APC 210 North Fourth Street San Jose 408-790-5320 I hope that you find this information useful. I can provide further information to elaborate on this answer, if you like. Resources used: Herlick, Stanford D., California Workers' Compensation Handbook, published by MatthewBender, ISBN: 0327163305 California Jurisprudence, 3d., published by West Group I particularly relied upon the latter volume in preparing this answer. "LexisNexis" http://www.lexis.com "Martindale-Hubbell" http://www.martindale.com Good Luck. I hope this helps. bobcooper-ga
Re: I had no Workers Compensation: California Uninsured Employers Fund
From: workcompadjuster-ga on 03 Jun 2004 03:33 PDT
I disagree with this answer. First and foremost, you have broken the law whether you paid for the "benefits" out of pocket or not. I would be more concerned with mitigating potential damages, than avoiding the U.E.F. - I'll explain. There are probably additional benefits due to the worker, or depending on the nature of the injury, things may not be as bad as you think. The law firms that are typically utilized by California insurance companies and third party administrators (T.P.A.s) typically bill approximately $125 per hour (they make the profit on the volume of services rendered). These firms are typically refered to as "Defense Firms" in the trade. There are probably a dozen that could adequately represent your interests. I would be more concerned with what doctor your former employee was treated by and whom that employee is presently being treated by as well. Further, the particular W.C.A.B. venue may also be a concern as well. Frankly, what I would do is contact a firm which specializes in workers' compensation defense to potentially represent my interest before the W.C.A.B. Then, you need to make a decision. You need to perform your own "Cost Benefit Analysis" to determine based upon the amount of profit you realized from your uninsured business enterprise, is it worthwhile to provide the benefits that your former employee is entitled. I pose that question as there is the civil liability (U.E.F. etc.) and then there is the potential criminal liability (which the Answer did not address at all). It is a felony in the State of California to deny workers compensation benefits to an injured worker. I opine that it would be better to pay the benefits due your former employee, than to even remotely run the risk of potentially being prosecuted for failing to provide such benefits. You ask the question how would law enforcement be aware that I allegedly did not provide such benefits? Well, if you do not act and your former employee actually seeks counsel to file against the U.E.F. (which is a state agency), they could easily provide a referral to either the Department of Insurance (D.O.I.) or the Attorney Generals Office (not likely) or a local District Attorney. If one pays the benefits, then the risk of a criminal prosecution is diminished significantly. How would the benefits be determined? Well, thats when you call the law firm back and they can assess for you what the potential benefits would be. I would not pay more than the $125 per hour under any circumstance, however. Should a firm agree to represent you, it should not take more than 8 hours at that rate for an attorney to assess the "claim." There may be some additional expenses as well, though initially the total costs ought not be more than, say $1,500. Depending upon the nature of the injury you probably could settle the claim with your former employee for an amount more reasonable than you think. To find out your initial potential exposure, contact the Employment Development Department to see whether your "employee" collected state disability insurance for any period subsequent to the injury. If so, the E.D.D. would eventually be reimbursed (by you) in addition to the U.E.F., if your employee filed an Application For Adjudication before the W.C.A.B. Your probably asking how do I pay for this? Well theres always the profits from the enterprise which you took the risk to start. In the alternative, if you're a property owner, I would refinance a property with an interest only loan (since rates are still reasonable) and "pull-out" the amount that the law firm above indicates that your potential exposure may be, in an "attempt" to "self-insure" oneself after-the-fact. "Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice."
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