I'd talk to a lawyer.
Even a brief consultation should reveal that this is a tough case for the employee to win if he didn't follow directions, but more importantly if he has no permanent damage. Likely, this would be deemed compensable by an arbitrator even with the these facts. That's just the way it is.
I would start by contacting firms that do respondent (defense) work for the major insurance companies, as I'm sure some of them take on uninsured clients now and then.
Work comp is based upon the permanency of the damage, the amount the employee earned, and body part injured and without any real permanent injury that figure sounds outrageous. Fault is not (usually) a factor under the law in this area as it is in negligence lawsuits but it can be used to show the employee was not doing the job the way he was supposed to be and therefore isn't covered. It's a stretch though, in my mind.
I hope this helps.
Stephen L. Hoffman
Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC
This answer posted on Avvo is for informational and educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship created or formed and you should not rely on this as legal advice. The suggestion is made that if you wish to protect your rights, you consult with an attorney immediately.
Negligence of your worker does not come into play in his worker's compensation case. If he's on the job and is injured from what you've related, he's going to have a viable work comp case. Hard to say what his case is worth without seeing his medical records and knowing his pay rate, but IF only brusing and swelling of a hand, hard to picture a $15,000 case. IF is the operative word here.
Worker's Compensation does not consider the fault of the injured worker. So long as the worker was performing work which benefited the employer at the time of his injury, it will be found to be compensable. You are best advised to hire experienced Worker's Compensation defense counsel to make your injured employee prove up his damages. I would be more than happy to make a recommendation in this regard without fee or obligation of any kind.
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If your business is required by law to be insured for workers' comp injuries, and it is not, you may have bigger legal problems than the injury. Here in NC our Commission is putting uninsured employers in jail for contempt when they don't promptly pay claims out of pocket.
You need to consult with a workers' comp defense lawyer about your rights and obligations. You may end up owing thousands of dollars in fines in addition to whatever you have to pay out of pocket to take care of this injured worker.
You need to be proactive on this to minimize the ultimate expense of the claim to you. And if you are required by law to be insured, then go buy a policy asap.
I would definitely speak to either a work comp defense attorney or an attorney who represents small businesses. It is a Class 4 felony to not have workers compensation insurance. In addition the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission has a fraud unit that investigates businesses that don't have insurance and fines them. Finally a provision of the work comp law allows civil lawsuits to be filed against employers that don't have insurance. If you do end up working out a settlement you will want it done in a way that protects you as much as possible.
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