All businesses in the US have a duty to provide a safe and secure working environment, and all - unless they have fewer than 4 employees - are required by law to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance, in case things go wrong.
If they are large enough, companies can self-insure rather than buying from a specialist carrier. Either way, the system is designed to cover medical and wage replacement costs for any employee injured in the course of work. In exchange, the employee relinquishes the right to sue the employer for negligence.
The level of payments to an employee is calculated in accordance with a state-approved formula. Damages claims for pain and suffering and punitive damages are generally not available.
Failure to provide insurance
The details of the schemes vary from state to state, but they are generally considered the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries. The failure of any employer to provide such insurance can result in fines, criminal prosecution, personal liability and the option for the employee to sue the employer instead.
Employers must also ensure that details of such a scheme are prominently displayed in the workplace, that they provide emergency medical treatment, and select a doctor if the employee is unable or unwilling to do so. They must also make full accident reports and file them with the local Workers’ Compensation Bureau. The employer is also obligated to ensure that the employee suffers no detriment or discrimination as a result of making any claim under the scheme.
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