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Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 06:33 pm
Running a business is tough. You have to make critical decisions everyday that affect the operations of the company and the lives of the people who work for you. Although you always try to make calls that are fair and just and in accordance with New York State law, mistakes happen. And there are times when the law seems to be on your side, but a judgment is made for the employee. This often happens in worker’s comp cases, and they can lead to a fine on your company.
Recently, the state government of New York has cracked down on businesses that violate state law regarding worker’s comp. If you receive a notice that you are in violation of the law, you must respond; and you must respond promptly. The worst thing you can do is to igonore it. The only result of not answering a letter from the state is a fine. They can come after your business assets and even hold you personally responsible for paying the money.
But before you do anything you should contact an attorney. You must call an attorney that specializes in worker’s comp fine cases. Once you begin correspondence with state authorities, anything that you say or put on paper can be used against you. It is essential that you not say anything that will damage your case.
If someone has taken an action against you, it is important to see it as a direct threat to your business. Without a skilled attorney the case could turn in the plaintiff’s favor, and this could lead to a money judgment against you. The latter is a legal judgment that is the final word and official decision on the action. A money judgment means that you are obligated to pay the claimant no matter what. In the enforcement of this judgment, the state can freeze your business accounts. It can also put a lien on your company’s assets, including real estate, goods, and equipment. Your credit report may also be adversely affected.
You need representation if you are to get a result that works in your favor. Paying off a worker’s comp penalty can put your business in serious peril. The lawyers at the firm of Villanueva & Sanchala have extensive expertise and experience in dealing with these kind of cases. They have obtained findings and made arguments that have saved companies thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars. At times they have even been able to get a complete rescission of the judgment or a substantial reduction of the judgment.
Small businesses are especially vulnerable to these kinds of judgments. And your inability to pay may lead to further unpleasantness. It is not unheard of for small business owners to be sent threatening letters, emails, and phone calls. If you are dealing with an employee who is espeically disgruntled about the matter, they may hire an attorney who is overly aggressive. Some go beyond what is fair, reasonable, decent, and legal.
You do not have to put up with such behavior. The best move is to put it in the hands of a qualified attorney.
Even if you have received a judgment, and it is in favor of the claimant, the struggle is not over. The court may have issued a Stop Work order, which is costing you thousands of dollars per day. Calling an attorney, even at this late stage, can be beneficial.
In many instances, the claims made by a current or former employee do not comport with the facts. The court may not have seen all the evidence, and may not have heard a compelling enough argument in your favor. If you tried to settle a worker’s comp problem or your own or used an attorney with no previous experience in this line of law, you will get a second chance to more effectively put your case before a court of law by hiring Villanueva & Sanchala.
The lawyers from this firm can perform a thorough investigation of the matter. They can gather all of the facts, introduce witnesses if need be, and apply the relevant bits of law to get an outcome that is more balanced and equitable. Stop Work orders can be reversed and fines can be reduced and eliminated. In other words, an official judgment can be amended or rescinded if new evidence is brought to light.
Although you may be inclined to avoid the bother and expense of a lawyer when dealing with a worker’s comp case, it is better to engage the services of such a professional. You may want to do the right thing by the person or people involved, but you must have expert counsel to look after your interest and to ensure that you are not served with a heavy and unjust financial penalty.
Business owners often receive heart-stopping letters from the New York Workers Compensation Board (WCB). These letters state that their businesses have been flagged for possible noncompliance with the requirement that businesses carry workers’ compensation insurance. Once the WCB sends one of these notices, the onus is on the business owner to prove compliance with the law. Failure to do so results in severe penalties. These penalties are often in the tens- or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Few businesses can absorb such stiff penalties. Worse, business owners can be held personally liable. Corporate board members are also personally on the hook. Egregious violations can result in criminal charges.
How to ensure compliance
All employers operating in New York State must carry workers’ compensation insurance. It makes no difference if the business operates in an industry where injuries are foreseeable, such as construction, or one where injuries seem unlikely, such as office work. Injuries can happen on any type of job. Office workers can experience back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, or even become injured in a fall on company property. If you are not carrying workers’ compensation insurance, don’t take a chance on finding yourself afoul of the New York WCB. Get insurance right away. If you think you may be exempt from workers’ compensation insurance, verify your exemption with an employment lawyer.
How WCB complaints happen
The worst case scenario for an employer is to have an employee get severely injured on the job when no workers compensation policy is in force. The WCB will be notified of this injury and pursue enforcement action. When this occurs, the employer is responsible for all of the medical and other related expenses for the injured employee. Serious on-the-job injuries quickly add into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
On top of those expenses, the WCB Board will assess severe fines and penalties. At the minimum, the WCB Board will fine the business $2,000 per ten days that insurance was not in effect. The Board may also add additional penalties and interest, as well as pursue criminal charges.
The WCB also maintains a database of all New York State employers. This database is cross referenced with information supplied by workers’ compensation insurance carriers. The WCB requires all workers’ compensation insurance carriers to report when polices are opened, modified, or terminated. Self-insured plans are also required to report to the WCB. When a company in the database appears to be out of compliance, a notice is automatically sent to the company.
Never ignore these notices. The law requires the company to respond within 10 days. Failure to do results in a finding of noncompliance. The WCB Board will then assess a fine.
To avoid a fine, the business must respond to the notice within the ten-day time limit. The response must prove that the company has workers’ compensation coverage, is self-insured, or is exempt from coverage requirements.
Appealing a workers’ compensation judgment
If you have received a judgment, contact a law firm that handles appeals for WCB fines. The appeals process has strict requirements. An appeal must be filed within 30 days of the notice. Failure to do so means the judgment becomes final.
Once judgments become final, the WCB will send the account to a collections agency. It will also continue to assess additional fines and interest. If fines still remain unpaid, the WCB will get a court judgment against the business and its owners. At that point, the businesses assets may be seized and a stop work order could be imposed. The business may be forced to close.
Also, the business owners and board members may have their personal assets seized. Collection actions may include liens against real estate and levies against bank accounts. Even after monies are collected, fines may continue to be assessed and interest may continue to accrue.
Though these consequences are dire, they can be avoided by appealing the judgment. Upon appeal, fines may be rescinded, reduced, or upheld. Failure to appeal leads to the worst possible scenario, which can result in business closure and seizure of personal assets. When the judgement is appealed by a reputable law firm, these dire consequences are avoided.
In some cases, the fine may be rescinded when the employer can adequately explain the lapse in coverage. Cases of unintentional noncompliance may also be rescinded. Also, mitigating circumstances and proof of current compliance can stop collections activity and may provide a reduction in the fine, penalties, or interest.
The New York WCB does not want to put people out of business. When you receive a notice of noncompliance, it is possible to get the fine rescinded or reduced. If you have received a WCB notice of noncompliance, contact a law firm experienced in appealing WCB judgments. We can stop collection activity and protect your business.
Few states enjoy as much general prosperity as that seen in New York. The state consistently ranks at the top of the country in wealth, and it has more billionaires than any other state in the country. But all of that wealth hasn’t been distributed evenly. And such a booming economy has led to more growth of the government and its bureaucracies than in other states, a fact that disproportionately affects the middle-class and small business. Still, the inefficiencies of unchecked government growth and its heavy, stifling hand have been masked by the extreme levels of wealth.
One area in which the government overreach in New York is greater than, perhaps, any other state in the country is in the realm of workers’ compensation law. The New York Workers’ Compensation Law metes out some of the most crushing penalties of any similar law in the country. And the judgment amounts that are awarded against companies that have not complied with the minimum insurance requirement are so severe that they often result in the forced bankruptcy of small businesses and individuals.
Unlike many other states, the New York Workers’ Compensation Board has interpreted the meaning of employer to be so broad as to include nearly everyone who has ever hired anyone else for more than a couple days of labor. This tendency is now well-enshrined in decades of decisions by the board. If you hire someone for more than a single day’s work, you are very probably bound by law to ensure that they are compliant with the state’s minimum workers’ compensation insurance requirement. If they are not, you will be held liable under the state’s Workers’ Compensation Law.
This is a big and potentially life-changing deal. The penalties for doing something as simple as hiring a nanny without carrying the state-mandated minimum insurance for workers’ compensation can amount to as much as $2,000 per week. And these penalties are not like some phone bill that can simply be blown off. The state has the power to grant itself judgments, leading to the garnishing of wages, draining of bank accounts and attaching of liens to real property. Our law office has seen clients lose their homes due to nonpayment of workers’ compensation penalties.
Lest you think that the nanny example is an exaggeration, we have actually had clients that have hired long-term helpers of various kinds around their primary residence and who have ended up before the Workers’ Compensation Board trying to explain why they shouldn’t be held liable for tens of thousands of dollars in penalties. It is worth emphasizing that in New York State, if you hire someone for more than a single day, you are very probably bound by the state Workers’ Compensation Law as an employer. Ignoring this fact can have disastrous consequences.
As bad as the penalties of $2,000 per day sound, however, what is much worse is the prospect of actually being found liable for a workplace incident while not being adequately covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Each year, hundreds of employers are forced out of business by multi-million-dollar judgments against them. If you hire someone who is deemed by the Board to be your employee, and you fail to take out adequate workers’ compensation insurance, you could be found liable for their injury and forced to pay both their lost wages and their medical expenses, potentially for life.
The good news is that with a little help, most of these ruinous consequences are preventable. But if you find yourself being targeted by the Workers’ Compensation Board, a plaintiff or their insurance company due to an alleged failure to comply with the Workers’ Compensation Law, the first thing you need to do is to put yourself in contact with one of our experienced and proven lawyers. The sooner you contact our law offices, the greater the likelihood that we can negotiate a resolution that will leave you financially intact. However, it is important to understand that in cases of workers’ compensation claims, time is your greatest enemy.
Our skilled and highly experienced lawyers have collectively spent decades working in the realm of New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law. We have many solutions at our disposal to help clients to arrive at a fair resolution to their case. Our lawyers have handled hundreds of Article 32 settlements and have successfully drawn up for our clients stipulated agreements that didn’t send them into bankruptcy.
Our lawyers are experts at handling the Voluntary Binding Review process, which is a form of arbitration in which the parties voluntarily decide upon a negotiated settlement rather than relying on the whim of a trail judge. In all of these processes, our experience and skill can make the difference between ending up with a million-dollar liability and paying a relatively small fee and going on your way.
Based on New York State law, employers must have compensation to cover their employees, and you have only a limited set of exceptions to this rule. As the employer, you must keep workers’ compensation to cover all the employees on the job. This includes the family members and employees that you have working on the job. We’re going to look at the penalties for not having workers’ compensation as well as the reasons that make this a good idea.
When you receive penalties from the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, it can feel quite daunting and even scary. The penalties range anywhere from criminal liability to significant monetary fines. Even worse, you could receive an order that forces you to close your business. When you receive a notice, you must take action immediately because the consequences can be real. Having a lawyer to handle these circumstances are essential if you want to receive the best results.
Based on Section 52-5, employers could face fines that reach as high as $2,000 for every 10-day period that you were non-compliant. You don’t have to think too hard to realize this can add up fast, and you must take action to protect your life savings and your business.
When you look at Section 52-1, you see how non-compliance can lead to criminal consequences. For example, an employer who had fewer than five employers might face a misdemeanor and a fine of between $1,000 to $5,000. These fines compound with the ones from Section 52-5. For employers who had more than five employees, they could even face a Class E Felony, which could be a fine of anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000, and this doesn’t include the fines from Section 52-5. Any subsequent violations will result in a Class D Felony, and they will face fines of no less than $10,000 but no higher than $50,000.
The New York Workers’ Compensation Board has the right to issue a Stop Work Order to all businesses that fail to remain compliant. Based on Section 141-a, this could sound the death knell of a business.
Based on Section 51-1, employers who have misrepresented their payroll records could face as much as a $2,000 fine for every 10 days that they failed to be compliant with it. In addition, this can lead to criminal convictions that become a separate punishment.
Any employer who doesn’t conspicuously post the C-105 form could have to pay additional fines that can reach as high as $250. When an employer doesn’t keep accurate payroll records, this can be a huge mistake that will cost him or her big. In fact, the employer could have to pay $1,000 for each 10-day period where they didn’t keep an accurate record. This could also turn into criminal liability.
Through Section 141-b, the employers who have filed to remain compliant with workers compensation coverage won’t be allowed to do public works projects. Certain types of businesses can especially run into problems with this because doing such work might make up a large part of their business, which can have devastating consequences if you relied on that type of work.
The consequences can be even more devastating if an employer failed to have workers’ compensation when an employee was injured. The employer will face legal fees and damages related to medical. In addition, the employee could decide to file a lawsuit that could be further damaging to the business.
If the Workers’ Compensation Board of New York has issued you a fine, judgment, or penalty, you should read through the notice carefully, but you should never respond to it in a way that will damage your case or make an admission. Instead, you should hire a lawyer immediately who has full knowledge over how to deal with these cases.
Lawyers have the ability to help through lowering the penalty against you. You have many cases of business owners who hired a competent lawyer, and they had the penalty lowered in a big way based on a technicality. If you have spent your whole life building up a business, you shouldn’t allow for New York State to take it away. As a small business owner who wears many hats and tries to keep the cost down, you absolutely must have a lawyer. That lawyer can save you thousands of dollars in fines and penalties.
All employers operating in New York State must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Upon receiving a notice, the company must respond within the ten-day time limit. Failure to do so results in a finding of noncompliance, a fine, and an incident where the company appears out of compliance. To avoid penalties, the business must respond to the notice within the ten-day time limit and avoid further collection and harsh consequences by appealing the judgment. Upon appeal, penalties may be rescinded, reduced, or upheld. Failure to appeal leads to the worst possible scenario, which can result in business closure and seizure of personal assets.
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