Nevada law requires employers in the state to carry workers’ compensation insurance. But workers’ compensation insurance isn’t cheap, and some employers try to skirt the law to save money. Failure to carry insurance can expose an employer to criminal penalties and fines. NRS 616D.200. For an injured worker, the employer’s failure to maintain workers’ compensation insurance can lead to significant financial hardships. Nevada provides a process for workers in this situation.
The steps involved when an employer is uninsured
A worker who is injured on the job might not know at the time of the injury that his or her employer is uninsured. At the first visit with a healthcare provider, the provider will provide the worker with Form C-4, the document that formally begins the workers’ compensation claim process. This form, which the healthcare provider uses to get paid for the services it provides, gets completed whether or not the employer has insurance. Because the form calls for the name of the employer’s insurer, many workers discover their employer has no insurance as part of this process.
The healthcare provider typically will try to identify the employer’s insurer. The Nevada Division of Industrial Relations maintains a public database of employers’ workers’ compensation insurance coverage. If the healthcare provider determines that the employer is uninsured it will notify the Workers’ Compensation Section (WCS) of the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations.
The WCS investigates uninsured worker claims and may take administrative action against employers who have failed to maintain required insurance. The WCS will examine the facts of the injury and will need to confirm that the worker was in fact an employee of the employer at the time the injury occurred. The injured worker must be prepared with adequate evidence to show the employment relationship, which in some cases can be difficult.
Rules for receiving benefits under the UECA
The injured employee will be given the option of taking benefits from the Nevada Uninsured Employers’ Claim Account (UECA) or pursuing a private lawsuit against the employer. The employee cannot choose both. In essence, the UECA functions just like an employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. A third party administrator evaluates the claim and decides whether to accept or deny the claim.
NRS 616C.220 sets out the detailed rules governing UECA claims. To receive UECA benefits, a worker must meet each of these criteria:
- The worker was hired in Nevada or is regularly employed in Nevada.
- The worker suffered an accident or injury arising out of and in the course of employment in the state, or while temporarily outside of the state on assignment.
- The worker must file a Form C-4 claim for compensation.
- The worker assigns to the DIR his or her rights to receive compensation from the employer for medical expenses and other costs that the UECA pays—a concept called subrogation.
As mentioned earlier, injured workers may choose to forego UECA coverage and instead pursue a civil lawsuit against their uninsured employers. Whether this strategy is the right one requires a careful examination of the facts by an attorney.
Consult with an attorney if your employer is uninsured
Workers who are injured on the job sometimes feel like they have few options. Those options can feel even slimmer when the employer turns out to not be properly insured. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can offer guidance not only in dealing with the uninsured employer, but also the WCS and UECA claims. The personal injury attorneys at GGRM have served the Las Vegas community for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request on our contact page.