Is Workers Compensation Mandatory in California?

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Work injuries are not uncommon. When a person is injured on the job, they should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Many people wonder whether or not their employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Chances are, they probably do have to have coverage. Understanding the workers’ compensation requirements in this state is important.

Who is required to have workers’ comp in California?

Every state has different requirements for who has to have workers’ compensation insurance. In California, all employers must have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, even if there is only one employee.

Sole proprietors are not generally required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. If the sole proprietor is a roofer, then they are required to carry workers’ comp coverage for themselves, even if they have no other employees.

Workers’ compensation is also required for part-time employees. How many hours a person works has no bearing on the employer’s workers’ comp requirements.

What are the penalties for not having workers’ compensation insurance?

California regulators take workers’ compensation violations very seriously. Failure to carry workers’ comp insurance is a criminal offense in California. Penalties for not having workers’ comp insurance include:

  • A stop order being issued for the business in violation. Failing to obey the stop order could result in a fine of $10,000 or more and imprisonment in county jail for up to one year.
  • A penalty could be assessed by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. This penalty could be twice the amount of money the employer would have paid in premiums during the time of non-compliance or $1,500 per employee during the time of non-compliance.
  • The Uninsured Employer’s Benefit Trust Fund may file a lien against the employer’s property if they need to pay benefits to an injured worker who was hurt while the employer was in non-compliance.

If a worker is injured and their employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance, then the employer may be liable for a $10,000 penalty per employee at the time of the workplace injury if the injury is compensable. If the injury is non-compensable, the employer could still face a fine of $2,000 per employee at the time of the incident. The maximum penalty for these violations is $100,000.

How common are workplace injuries?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 2.8 million total non-fatal work injuries or illnesses reported during the latest year of data available across the country. While many injuries are not serious and lead to no days of work missed, it is not uncommon for a Long Beach workplace injury attorney to help clients who have sustained the following injuries at work:

  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Broken or Dislocated Bones
  • Severe Lacerations or Amputations
  • Hearing and Vision Loss
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Cancers or Other Chronic Illnesses
  • Repetitive stress injuries

What does workers’ compensation insurance cover?

In California, workers’ compensation offers extensive protection for those who are hurt on the job. California law requires workers’ comp to provide the following:

  • Medical care
  • Temporary disability benefits
  • Permanent disability benefits
  • Supplemental job displacement benefits
  • Return-to-work supplement

Workers’ compensation also provides certain death benefits in the event a worker dies due to the injury. This includes up to $10,000 for burial expenses as well as up to $320,000 in death benefits (varies depending on the number of dependents the deceased had).