There are not many in our industry who speak with true compassion for the uninsured employer. Los Angeles attorney Zachary Sacks is the exception. While he doesn't give much credence to those who intentionally and flagrantly violate the law, he sounds somewhat sympathetic to those, who through their own ignorance about workers' compensation and their responsibilities, find themselves afoul of the law and in serious legal trouble. He has made a career out of helping people like that.
Now he has written a book to assist them. And I think it is a book they should read.
I first met Mr. Sacks in 2015, at the Induction Dinner for the College of Workers' Compensation Lawyers. I was the Keynote presenter for the evenings soiree, and he and his wife were seated at our table. Affable and highly intelligent, we briefly spoke that evening about his practice that assists uninsured employers. David Depoalo had a great deal of respect for the man, later telling me that Sacks is a “legend” in California legal circles. So, when his book, entitled “Every Employer's Nightmare – Uninsured for Workers' Compensation”, arrived at my office, I was most intrigued as to what this man had to say.
The book is well written, and would be very useful, particularly for owners of small and start-up businesses to read. I have written previously about the ignorance that some employers have when it comes to workers' compensation, and Sacks book is a validation of those views. In the book, he takes great effort to advise them of their legal responsibilities to protect their employees by purchasing workers' compensation insurance. He also pulls no punches as to the ramifications of not doing so.
I suspect that one of his challenges is that the same ignorance that leads to lack of coverage will also prevent people in need from seeking out this book – until it is too late for them. Still, if he can get it in the hands of people early enough, he can save all of us a great deal of trouble down the road.
One thing was clear from reading this work. A competent and knowledgeable agent or broker can do a lot to help avoid situations like those described in “Every Employer's Nightmare”. A professional who asks probing questions and makes the effort to understand their client's employment structure can educate, inform and insure that person in a manner that protects from the pitfalls of uninsured risk. An agent that simply skims the surface and accepts initial answers may not achieve the same results.
Sacks is thorough in his work, looking at multiple scenarios, offering advice for both employers who have and have not suffered an uninsured injury. At one point, when discussing businesses that use “just friends and family” to produce the service or product, he asks, “Can you rely on family ties or friendship to prevent a claim from being made against you?” I laughed out loud at his immediate follow up, which was, “Perhaps, but only if you are in the Mafia”. Along the lines of thoroughness, he goes into great detail surrounding what employers who have experienced an uninsured injury can do to protect themselves. The most notably named chapter in that section is simply called “RUN”.
I shouldn't have to explain that one for you.
There will be those appalled that a book, which on the surface appears designed to help those who commit fraud and illicit activity, is published and promoted in the industry. Those people, I think, will be missing the point. Sacks is targeting a segment of employers that, often through sheer ignorance, is affecting both our industry and society at large. His work makes clear to employers what their responsibilities are, and strips away the excuses and misinformation that seem to continually dog perceptions of workers' compensation. This is not a book that encourages illegal activity by any means; in contrast, it is intended to discourage and eliminate it wherever possible.
The book is available at Amazon. It is written in plain, non-legal language, and directly addresses a gigantic elephant in the room. Uninsured employers are a problem that put both their businesses and employees at tremendous risk. If we can get works like “Every Employer's Nightmare” into their hands early enough, life will be literally better for everyone.
Now, if we can just figure out how to do that……
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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