When an employer does not have workers' compensation coverage at the time of an industrial accident, it can be more complicated and time consuming to receive your benefits. If your employer had no workers' compensation insurance on the date of your injury, you may either file a civil law suit against your employer in Superior Court, or file a claim for workers' compensation benefits with the Industrial Commission of Arizona.
If you choose to move forward with a workers' compensation claim, the first step is to file a form 407 -- Workers' Report of Injury. The Industrial Commission will use the information you provide to attempt to formally notify the employer of the claim. If it appears that the employer did not have coverage on the date of the incident, the Industrial Commission will begin gathering additional information on the employer to continue to attempt to make notification and to confirm that they do not have coverage.
Next, your case is sent to the Special Fund Division. The purpose of the Special Fund is to provide appropriate benefits to employees injured while working for non-insured employers. The Special Fund Division will act as the insurance company. They will process your claim and conduct their own investigation into the time, place, and manner of your injury. Essentially, they will determine if you were truly an employee or if you were actually an independent contractor and whether you were, in fact, injured during the course and scope of your employment. During this time, you may receive a letter from the Special Fund asking you to provide additional information regarding your claim and your employment. They may ask you for a medical release authorization. This investigation process can take some time. Once the investigation is complete, we will receive a Notice of Determination regarding the acceptance or denial of your claim and your case will begin to proceed as any other case.
To summarize: you are not out of luck if your employer did not have worker's compensation insurance. Do not assume that your employer will get out of everything free and clear; they will still be responsible for paying for your compensation to the Industrial Commission and they will likely have to pay a penalty on top of it.
If you have questions about whether or not your employer had workers' compensation coverage at the time of your accident, whether you should file with the Industrial Commission or sue your employer, or need assistance in dealing with the Special Fund, please contact Fendon Law Firm for a free consultation.