In Nebraska, most companies are required to have workers’ compensation coverage in the event that their employees suffer an injury on the job. In some cases, an employee is involved in an accident, only to find out later that their insurer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance. In these situations, we recommend that the injured employee hire an attorney as soon as possible. These types of claims have additional complications that can be very difficult to navigate without someone who knows Nebraska workers’ compensation laws guiding you through the process.
When your employer doesn’t have coverage, their situation usually falls into one of two categories: Either they are exempt from workers’ compensation laws, or they were illegally operating without workers’ compensation insurance. It is important to know which situation you are facing, because your legal strategy and your available options will depend on whether or not your employer was supposed to have workers’ compensation insurance.
What to Do if Your Employer is Exempt from Workers’ Comp Laws
Some jobs, such as federal jobs, jobs on the water, housekeeping, railroad jobs, and some other specific companies are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance, either because there is some other law that takes the place of workers’ compensation, or because they are exempt. In these situations, you have several options:
Seek Other Compensation
Other sources of income may be available to you, including proceeds from slip and fall personal injury suits, auto accident suits, or, if there is no other option and you are permanently disabled, Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI). In addition, some companies offer private disability insurance that can compensate you, but you need to inquire about this and file a claim in a reasonable time frame.
Utilize Health Insurance and Return to Work
If your condition is not serious or permanently disabling, and you have health insurance, you may simply be able to recover from your injuries and return to work.
What to Do if Your Employer Was Supposed to Have Workers’ Compensation Coverage and Neglected to Get It
In some cases, employers are simply in violation of the workers’ compensation insurance requirements. In these situations, it is crucial that you hire an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your claim, as you may have a cause of action against your employer OUTSIDE of the workers’ compensation system. Nebraska law allows for an injured employee to bring a “common-law” action against the employer. Furthermore under these actions, the employer will lose the right to allege specific defenses such as contributory negligence and assumption of the risk.
But remember: file an accident report and seek medical treatment, even if your company does not have insurance. You will still need proof of your injury and of your accident.
These issues can seem complicated, which is why we recommend speak to an attorney to determine your best plan going forward.