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What if my employer isn't covered by workers' compensation?

After being injured on the job, you rely on your employer's workers' compensation policy to account for medical expenses, lost wages and many other expenses. But what if you find out too late that your employer is not actually covered by workers' compensation insurance? Is there any action you can take to recover damages under New York law, or are employers allowed to simply not carry coverage?

New York requires that, unless formally exempt, all employers either acquire an appropriate workers' compensation insurance policy or are self-insured. If your employer fails to comply with this law, not only do they face steep daily fines until they obtain workers' compensation insurance or produce proof of existing insurance or exemption, but they may also face criminal and civil charges and stop-work orders that mandate they cease doing business immediately - resulting in greater financial impact against them.

More importantly, though, if you are injured at work while your employer does not have workers' compensation insurance, your employer is still liable for all costs of medical damages and any other compensation to you. Regardless of if they have an insurance policy or not, they must cover the amount that would have been awarded to you by a workers' compensation claim as part of the cost of their negligence. You may have to pursue a claim against them, or the state Workers' Compensation Board may take action on your behalf.

Please use this blog post as a reference only, and do not assume the information provided here is a valid substitute for qualified legal counsel.

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