All employers in the state of California are required to have workers' compensation insurance. If your employer does not, they are violating the law. Because some employers may not have the insurance to cover injured workers, California has put a special fund in place called the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF).
The UEBTF pays injured workers, like you, benefits to cover expenses related to injuries much in the same way a workers' compensation insurance company would. However, the UEBTF is not an insurance company for your employer. They only come into play when your employer is illegally uninsured. If the UEBTF pays your benefits, they will then seek reimbursement from your employer for any benefits paid on your behalf.
In addition to UEBTF seeking reimbursement, your employer can face other consequences such as:
- Hefty fines
- Closing the business
- Criminal charges
- In some cases, the employer can be sentenced to jail
If you believe your employer is uninsured, you can contact the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE)to file a complaint.
How do I know if my employer is covered?
Employers should post workers' compensation information in a common area with other workplace announcements and information. For example, if you have seen the minimum wage poster, the workers' compensation information should be in the same place and should name the insurance company as well as its contact information. The information poster will also indicate when the insurance coverage is set to expire.
In the event your employer does not have the appropriate information posted or you are still unsure whether or not your employer had insurance on your date of injury, you can contact the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau to find out.
What if I'm undocumented?
You are covered. All workers in California can receive work injury benefits regardless of their legal status. Even if your employer does not have workers' compensation insurance, you are entitled to receive UEBTF benefits when you suffer a work injury.
How do I receive benefits?
If your employer does not carry workers' compensation insurance, they may choose to pay your medical bills and other related benefits on their own without the insurance. However, if they refuse, it's important to speak to an attorney to discuss all of your possible options. The workers' compensation process can be lengthy and complex and you will want to work with an attorney who is experienced with all facets of the workers' compensation system.