Most employers in the state of New York are required to obtain and keep worker's compensation coverage. You may think that your business is in a safe occupation or industry where a workplace accident or injury is unlikely, but penalties for noncompliance can be incurred even without a workers' compensation claim ever being filed. The Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) routinely monitors the coverage status of all employers in the state, and if they find out you are uninsured, you could face both civil and criminal penalties and find your business operations seriously hampered. Attorney Peter M. Cordovano represents uninsured employers and defends them in WCB proceedings and hearings in New York State courts.
New York Workers' Compensation Offenses and Defenses
New York State Workers' Compensation Law provides many different offenses that could subject an employer to civil or criminal penalties, or both. These offenses include:
- Failure to secure coverage
- Subsequent failure to secure coverage
- Intentional misrepresentation (paying workers "off the books," not reporting wages paid to undocumented workers, misclassifying employees as independent contractors, etc.)
- Failure to maintain accurate payroll records
There are specific elements which must be proven in order to convict someone of any one of the above offenses or subject an employer to civil penalties. As a workers' compensation attorney with years of additional experience in personal injury civil litigation and criminal defense, Peter M. Cordovano has the skills and abilities necessary to provide strong, effective defense before administrative law judges, board panels, and the courts.
In workers' compensation, penalties can be imposed on employers or insurers for various reasons, such as failing to provide timely benefits, intentionally delaying or denying benefits, or failing to provide necessary medical treatment.
Penalties serve as a way to hold employers and insurers accountable for their actions and to deter future violations. As a lawyer, it's important to understand the types of penalties that can be imposed and the process for pursuing them.
There are several types of penalties that can be imposed in workers' compensation cases. These include:
- Late Payment Penalties: If an employer or insurer fails to provide timely benefits to an injured worker, they may be subject to late payment penalties. These penalties are intended to compensate the injured worker for any financial losses incurred as a result of the late payment.
- Medical Treatment Penalties: If an employer or insurer fails to provide necessary medical treatment to an injured worker, they may be subject to medical treatment penalties. These penalties are intended to compensate the injured worker for any harm caused by the lack of treatment.
- Penalties for Failure to Pay Benefits: If an employer or insurer intentionally delays or denies benefits to an injured worker, they may be subject to penalties for failure to pay benefits. These penalties are intended to deter employers and insurers from engaging in such behavior in the future.
- Other Penalties: There may be other penalties that can be imposed depending on the specific circumstances of the case.
If you believe that an employer or insurer has violated workers' compensation laws and may be subject to penalties, it's important to take the appropriate steps to pursue those penalties. This may involve filing a complaint with the appropriate state agency or filing a lawsuit in court.
The process for pursuing penalties can be complex and may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. It's important to work with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer who can help guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Civil Penalties for Noncompliance
The WCB can levy administrative penalties against an employer for failing to maintain required coverage. These penalties amount to $2,000 per every 10-day period of noncompliance on top of any workers' compensation award due to an injured employee. The employer is liable to the injured worker for both compensation and medical costs, which can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a serious injury. The Board may assess additional penalties as well.
To make matters worse for a business owner, depending upon the structure of the business (partnership, sole proprietorship), owners and officers of the business could be held personally liable for these payments.
If you believe you have grounds to challenge an injured worker's claim, you can still challenge it, but as an uninsured employer you would have to pay for your own legal representation to defend against the claim, whereas if you had coverage, then such legal defense would likely be covered under your policy.
Criminal Penalties for Noncompliance
It is possible for the authorities to go after an uninsured employer for criminal sanctions as well. An uninsured employer with five or less employees can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and subjected to fines between $1,000 and $5,000. An uninsured employer with more than five employees may be found guilty of a Class E felony and subjected to fines between $5,000 and $50,000. An employer who is found guilty of violating the law and has a previous conviction within the past five years can be convicted of a Class D felony, which carries a minimum fine of $10,000.
Stop Work Orders
Yet another penalty which may befall an uninsured employer is the issuance of a Stop Work Order, which requires the immediate cessation of all business activities. The WCB has the power to issue a Stop Work Order if you do not have workers' compensation coverage in place or if you owe any outstanding debt to the Board. As an employer, you could find yourself debarred from participating in any public works contract or subcontract for one year, or five years if you receive a felony conviction for one of the offenses described above.
Help Is available to Uninsured Employers
Whether you are being subjected to civil or criminal penalties, you have the right to defend yourself in court or before the Board, and to have an attorney advise you and represent you. If you are charged with civil penalties, you can seek a redetermination review, but you must act quickly or you can lose your right to review. It is often possible to explain the lapse and ask for a reduction in the penalty. In criminal court, you would have the full range of options for your defense available, as well as the right to appeal any conviction to a higher court.
We can help you defend against the charges before the WCB or in court. Attorney Peter M. Cordovano has years of practice before the WCB and is also an experienced civil litigator and criminal defense lawyer. The burden is on the state to prove the case against you, and you may have many options and strategies available in your defense. If you are charged with failing to maintain workers' compensation insurance in Orange, Dutchess or Ulster county, call on Peter M. Cordovano, P.C. in Highland, Poughkeepsie, Arlington, and Kingston for strong, effective defense.
Not only does Peter M. Cordovano have a profound respect for the legal profession, he has earned an esteemed reputation for his tireless dedication to Workers' Compensation and Social Security Disability clients.
Attorney Peter M. Cordovano has a solid grasp of the medical issues involved in his clients' cases and can effectively engage with medical providers and insurance company representatives.
Over the years, our firm has had the pleasure of helping more than 1,500 clients navigate complex Social Security Disability and Worker's Compensation cases.
Since 1987, Attorney Peter M. Cordovano has fought for distressed clients who need capable case management and calm reassurance.
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I would like to thank you, for all you have done for me and my son. You are the kindest person and most excellent lawyer I have known in my life. You are our angel.- Maria I.