The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) is clear: Employers in our state “are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance.” An uninsured employer could face several different sanctions, including:
- Civil legal action in the form of personal injury liability;
- A state-issued fine that could be as high as $10,000.00 per worker;
- A doubling of workers’ compensation premiums for three years;
- A suspension of commercial operations; and
- Criminal prosecution of the business owner.
Employers accused of being unlawfully uninsured will often receive a document called a Special Notice of Lawsuit (SNOL). Here, our Bakersfield workers’ compensation defense lawyers highlight the key things that employers should know about responding to a Special Notice of Lawsuit in California.
What is a Special Notice of Lawsuit (SNOL) in California?
As a starting point, it is important to understand what a SNOL is and the legal purpose that it serves. A Special Notice of Lawsuit is effectively a legal notice that a person is claiming three key things:
- They were your employee;
- They were hurt on the job; and
- They believe that your business was unlawfully uninsured.
California operates a state-run fund called the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF). This fund is designed to protect employees with uninsured employers. It gives them a place to go for work injury benefits. However, an injured worker cannot file for benefits through the UEBTF without sending a SNOL to the (allegedly) uninsured employer.
Do Not Ignore a SNOL: Three Steps to Take if You Receive an Uninsured Employer Notice
When you receive a SNOL, it means that someone is seeking benefits from the UEBTF for a workplace injury that allegedly occurred at your company. If any benefits are issued, the UEBTF will try to recoup the costs directly from your company—and they may seek serious sanctions. Ignoring a Special Notice of Lawsuit is a big mistake. Here are three steps to take to protect your rights:
- Review and Preserve the SNOL: Carefully review the SNOL. You should go line-by-line and note anything in the notice that you believe is inaccurate. Make sure you preserve the notice.
- Get Organized: Organization is one of the keys to defending an uninsured employer workers’ compensation claim. Gather all relevant documents, records, and information about the case.
- Consult With an Uninsured Employer Defense Lawyer: Get professional help. An experienced Fresno, CA workers’ compensation defense attorney can review the allegations and help you devise a comprehensive legal strategy to protect your interests—whether that means aggressively defending a false claim or looking for a favorable settlement.
Contact Our California Uninsured Employer Defense Attorney Today
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our California workers’ compensation defense lawyers have the professional skills and legal experience to handle uninsured employer claims. If you or your company received a Special Notice of Lawsuit, we can help. Contact us today to set up your confidential consultation. We provide workers’ compensation defense services in uninsured employer claims to clients in Bakersfield, Kern County, and throughout the wider region of Central California.