In Illinois, if you own a business and have even a single employee, you are required to have workers' compensation insurance. However, the high cost of workers' comp coverage results in some small-business owners not purchasing coverage.
That's unwise. Businesses face serious risk if they do not carry workers' comp insurance. For starters, there are potential penalties. A business owner can be fined $500 for every day an employee goes without workers' comp coverage. In Illinois, willfully failing to obtain workers' compensation is felony.
More importantly, a company that does not have workers' compensation coverage could end up paying thousands or even millions of dollars in workers' medical bills, lost wages and other benefits. If that puts the company out of business, then so be it.
Many Small Businesses Roll the Dice
A poll of more than 900 small-business owners by Insureon and online small business directory Manta shows that 26 percent of respondents report they do not have workers' compensation coverage for their employees. Thirty percent of respondents said they are uncertain whether they are required to provide coverage for their staff.
Businesses without workers' comp coverage also put themselves at risk of civil lawsuits by injured workers. By law, companies with workers' compensation insurance are protected from negligence lawsuits in most cases if workers' comp covers the injury. Without insurance, this is not the case.
If you are injured on the job or exacerbate an existing medical condition as a result of work duties, it is always wise to enlist the assistance of a knowledgeable workers' compensation lawyer. Whether your employer has insurance or not, an attorney can work to maximize the amount you recover.