What to do if an employer refuses to pay your medical bills for an on-the-job injury?
Question Details: I work part-time and I injured my index finger, which mounted in swelling and a contusion. I thought that I better get it checked to make sure I didn't break any bones in the finger. The first thing I did was call my manager. She did agreed to let me go in and make sure it got checked. My co-worker ended up coming in and letting me leave, as I should the finger to the them. A couple of days later, my hours for the entire week were completely wiped out. I kept trying to get in contact with the main owner to get workers comp filled out and the process started. My boss kept making excuses and refusals to let me speak with the owner and made phone calls very brief. I had this gut wrench feeling that this was a way to sweep things under the rug and a way to fire me. Come to terms, I waited an entire week before I finally got in contact and they said they fired me due to extreme reasons - never once was I talked to in regards to extreme reasons. I asked once again about workmans comp. Excuses were made and I finally called the store, this time speaking to the main owner. I know I was fired due to the injury, as they should have explained the extreme reasons to me but they couldnt come up with really anything except that my schedule didn't align. Of course, all covered my lies. If they wanted to get rid of me that bad, they could have weeks ago, or never hired me. Anyway, the finger injury was the icing on the cake for them to say adios. As I talked to the main owner, I asked how the finger and medical bills would be covered under workers comp. I was told 1 of 4 things. First, she talked to her insurance advisor never got a name of the place/person and she doesn't have to cover it. Also, they checked the security cams, they never saw me being injured wrong, would show me grabbing my finger. Additionally, I had bloody tissues that I threw in the trash. I went in 2 days later to show my boss not the main owner would took place. I told her that I threw my bloody tissues in there. But as we looked, the trash was already taken out. They said that they looked through the trash cans and couldnt find anything or any trace of my bloody tissues. Finally, I remember showing my co-worker my finger and them saying I should go get it checked. Then comes about, they made a statement saying that I ended up making the whole thing up and they didn't see anything. After this phone conversation with the primary owner, I contacted workers comp right away. They advised me to file forms as my employer has refused to and I have the right to have workers comp regardless of cameras, or what their insurance advisor stated to them. At this point in time, the business is located in MN, which by law they are required to carry workers comp and should have offered me forms and spoken to me more better regarding my medical crisis. At this point, I'm not sure what direction to turn, as the injury did occur at work and I have been told by several people since it did occur within work hours, the employer has to pay for my medical bills.
Yes, they should have had worker's compensation. But since they didn't, there is no worker's comp to pay for your injury. Instead, when there is no worker's comp, the employee has the right to sue the employer for a work-related injury--the employer has no protection from liability if they don't carry worker's comp. (Worker's comp is designed to protect both employer and employee: employee by providing compensation without the need to sue; employer by protecting them from being sued.)
So you have the right to sue for your injury. However, to win, you'd have to prove in court that the employer caused the injury in some way, such as by unsafe equipment or work practices, or the carelessness of a coworker dropping something on your finger, etc. If the employer is not at fault, you will not win your lawsuit: in the absence of worker's comp, employers are only liable when at fault. So if your finger breaking had nothing to do with them (e.g., you accidently dropped something on your own finger, or tripped over your own feet and jammed it when you fell), you are not entitled to compensation when they did not have worker's comp.