Workers Compensation is an insurance program that provides medical and disability benefits for work-related injuries and diseases. If injured on the job, an employee's medical treatment costs will be paid by the policy until able to return to work. Workers' Compensation protects both employees and employers. Each covered employee has a right to benefits if injured on the job. In return, the worker forfeits the right to sue the employer for job-related injuries. All employers must obtain coverage by purchasing an insurance policy through the Government Insurance Fund of the Virgin Islands.
I AM A VIRGIN ISLANDS EMPLOYER: WHO SAYS I HAVE TO INSURE MY EMPLOYEES?
In order to compensate injured workers, or their families in case of death, and relieve them from the burdensome, expensive legal remedies, the Virgin Islands Legislature passed the Workers’ Compensation Act, Title 24, Section 250 et. seq., of the Virgin Islands Code. This statue compels all employers in the Virgin Islands to secure Workmen Compensation Insurance.
WHO IS REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH THE VIRGIN ISLANDS WORKERS COMPENSATION LAW?
All employers who employ one or more employees affected by this statute, what ever their wages may be, including public corporations, any person or body of persons whether contractors or sub-contractors.
ARE INDIVIDUAL OWNERS OR PARTNERS CONSIDERED EMPLOYEES UNDER THIS LAW?
Individual owners or partners are not considered as employees. However, if they work full-time in the business, they may elect to be covered under the Workers Compensation Insurance Policy issued to their company.
IS A GENERAL CONTRACTOR LIABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION TO EMPLOYEES OF ALL SUB-CONTRACTORS?
Yes, contractors shall be liable for reimbursement to the Government Insurance Fund for benefits given under this chapter to all employees of their uninsured subcontractors during such time as the employee is actually doing work for the benefit of the contractor.
MAY AN EMPLOYER BE HELD LIABLE FOR BEING UNINSURED?
If an employer has no Workers’ Compensation coverage and is sued for damages by an employee, the employer may have to pay substantially more in damages including medical bills, lost earnings into the future, and pain and suffering. This is in addition to penalties imposed by law. If the injured worker elects to recover under Workers Compensation, the employer shall be liable for reimbursement to the Government Insurance Fund for ALL expenditures incurred plus a 30% penalty.
ARE ACCIDENT REPORTS REQUIRED BY LAW TO BE FILED WITH THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ADMINSITRATION?
YES! The employer must file a First Report of accident with the Workers Compensation Administration within eight (8) days of notification of the accident and injury.
IS THERE ANY PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO FILE OR SIGN AN ACCIDENT REPORT?
YES! Any employer who fails to file, refuses to sign, or neglects to make a report shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to the $2000.00 maximum. After a hearing, a penalty of up to $5000.00 may be imposed upon an employer found culpable. However, any employer who fails or refuses to file, or sign an accident report as required by the Workers’ Compensation Administration Act, shall not prejudice the claim of the injured worker.
** WORD OF CAUTION TO EMPLOYERS!**
WHEN YOU HAVE AN INJURED EMPLOYEE, PLAY IT SAFE AND ALWAYS REPORT THE INJURY TO WORKERS’ COMPENSATION.THE BEST SOLUTION TO HIGH WORKERS COMPENSATION COST IS A SAFE WORK PLACE! ! !
MAY AN EMPLOYER ASSESS THE EMPLOYEE FOR ANY PART OF THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PREMIUMS?
NO! Not under any circumstances!HOW IS COMPLIANCE PROVED?By filing a notice with the Workers’ Compensation Administration that the employer has obtained Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
IS THERE ANY RECOURSE FOR DELAY IN PAYMENTS?
Although there is no requirement or obligation to do so, the employer may advance representation of lost wages to the injured person. Then upon formal request to the Workers’ Compensation Administration, the employer will be entitled to reimbursement not to exceed the predetermined compensable amount for Disability Income Benefits.
IS THE EMPLOYER OBLIGED TO REHIRE THE INJURED EMPLOYEE?
YES! It is mandatory that an employer shall rehire any employee who:Has been disabled and thereby unable to continue his employment, as certified under this statue, and2. Immediately after the termination of the disability, applies to the employer for reemployment in the position which he held, at the time of the in jury, or in a substantially equivalent position, unless the employer satisfies the WCA either that the employee, as a result of the injury, will be unable to resume in full his previous obligations and duties, or that the employee has terminated the employment after the accident for just cause.
These provisions shall be enforced by order after hearing.