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When an Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Comp Insurance

Episode 13: Louisville workers’ compensation attorney Scott Scheynost welcomes Pat Roth to the podcast.  Pat is an attorney who spent 14 years with the Kentucky Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF).  They discuss what happens when an employer does not have workers’ comp insurance.  The UEF can provide benefits for an injured worker, so that worker has coverage for medical treatments and other benefits.

Pat began working with Kentucky’s Special Fund, while he was in law school.  The fund falls under the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and is related to workers’ compensation.  He focused on workers’ compensation-related issues for the past 30 years.  

Please note: Pat Roth is no longer associated with the Scheynost Law Offices, P.S.C.

Kentucky Uninsured Employers Fund

The purpose of the fund is to guarantee that injured workers’ have access to benefits, even if the employer fails to have workers’ comp insurance.  There are various reasons an employer may not have a workers’ compensation policy.  They may not understand the requirements.  They may want to avoid the cost.  Sometimes, it’s because the policy lapsed and had not been renewed at the time of the workplace injury.

The UEF provides the exact same benefits to the injured worker as they would have received had the employer had workers’ compensation coverage.  The attorney representing the injured worker needs to name the Kentucky Uninsured Employers Fund as a party to the action.  

employer does not have workers' comp insurance

How to Know if Your Employer Has Workers’ Comp Insurance?

Pat explains that Frankfort has a toll-free number anyone can call to find out if a company operating in Kentucky has coverage.  That number is 800-554-8601.  

Scott explains that he frequently hears stories from an injured worker who has been told by his/her boss not to file a claim and the company will cover it.  It’s not too long before the medical expenses are due and the employee is no having trouble getting in touch with the boss.  Often, that injured worker is being lied to.  

The worker may decide to file a claim with the Kentucky Department of Workers Claims on their own, but this can be a complicated process.  It may be easier to hire a Kentucky workers’ compensation attorney to handle the claim.  Again, if the company doesn’t have coverage, the UEF must be brought into the process.

Once the Kentucky Uninsured Employers Fund is brought into the case, they begin investigating the situation.  Just because the UEF if involved, doesn’t necessarily guarantee all benefits will be paid.  Just like any normal workers’ compensation claim, the judge still needs to rule in the workers’ favor.  The claim must have merit.

While the UEF is there to protect injured workers and their access to benefits, the attorneys working for the UEF still work hard to ensure the funds are spent properly.  Both Scott Scheynost and Pat Roth have been involved with cases at the Kentucky Supreme Court having the Kentucky Uninsured Employers Fund actively participating.

The Company Said I’m an Independent Contractor

Many companies try to avoid paying workers comp and other taxes by classifying workers as independent contractors.  There are legitimate situations for which this is the proper classification.  However, at times employees are being treated as 1099s when they are actually employees of the company.  Pat comments that this is a significant reason for many of the claims handled by the UEF.

Types of Occupations Relying on the UEF

Pat explains that there are numerous types of jobs that may require the assistance of the Uninsured Employers Fund.  This can happen for a number of reasons, including the fact that the company negligently operated without Kentucky workers’ compensation insurance.  Here are a few of the more common occupations involved:

  • Roofers
  • Painters
  • Coal Miners
  • Truck Drivers and other Delivery Drivers
  • People injured while working in the state of Kentucky, or simply passing through

Does Indiana Have an Uninsured Employers Fund?

Unfortunately, no.  Scott is licensed to practice in Indiana and comments that this type of fund doesn’t exist for injured, Indiana workers.  The employee would have to actually sue the employer, if that employer was not covered by a workers’ compensation policy.  

How is the UEF Funded?

Pat explains that every Kentucky business pays a tax which funds the workers’ compensation system, including a portion for the UEF.

Does the UEF Pay a Death Benefit, Like KY Workers’ Comp?

In the event of a workplace fatality, and assuming the employer isn’t covered by a workers’ compensation policy, the KY Uninsured Employers Fund pays the same level of death benefit as the normal Kentucky workers’ compensation system.  This lump sum death benefit is in addition to the periodic benefit payment the spouse and eligible, minor children may also receive.

It Cost You Nothing to Speak with Scott

Contact Scott Scheynost at (502) 937-5287.  This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice.  Scott’s principal office is located at 7619 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY 40258.  Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson.  This is an advertisement.