In another decision with an unusual fact pattern, a company got into serious trouble for not obtaining worker’s compensation insurance for its employees. See Tow truck company’s failure to insure employees merits maximum penalty. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 28, Issue 6, May 15, 2020, p. 8. The case discussed in the article, IWCC Insurance Compliance Dept. v. Collier, 28 ILWCLB 66 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019), involved a tow truck company that deliberately violated the applicable sections of the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act, by continuously refusing and/or failing to obtain worker’s compensation insurance coverage for its workers for more than six years. During the time that no coverage was available at the company, the inevitable occurred, and an employee of the company was injured, and due to the company not having insurance, the worker was ultimately only able to have his worker’s compensation award of $34,000 satisfied from the Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund. The lead investigator for the IWCC Insurance Compliance Department then discovered, after reviewing a national database, that the truck company had not filed proof of insurance from July 2005 to November 2011, which meant that for a total of 2,325 days, the company had no insurance. Moreover, the truck company refused to cooperate with authorities attempting to find solutions to the insurance problem, and the company constantly ignored subpoenas to appear at insurance compliance proceedings and conferences. Fed up with the tow truck company’s continued intransigence, and desirous to deter other companies and businesses from flouting the worker’s compensation insurance laws and requirements of Illinois, the Commission decided to impose the maximum penalty allowed under the circumstances, and imposed a fine of $500 a day for each of the 2,325 days that the truck company was without insurance coverage, which added up to a total of $1,162,500 in fines.
While this penalty may prove to be more symbolic than anything else (especially since it will probably be impossible for a presumably small company to pay such large fines), it still sends a strong message about the responsibilities of employers regarding worker’s compensation insurance. Worker’s compensation insurance is a serious matter, and while maintaining the coverage may occasionally be burdensome for some employers, it nevertheless must and should still be done.
See Tow truck company’s failure to insure employees merits maximum penalty. Illinois Worker’s Compensation Law Bulletin (also cited as ILWCLB), Volume 28, Issue 6, May 15, 2020, p. 8.
– Attorney Matthew Ludwinski