As a cannabis business owner there are certain responsibilities and requirements that cannot be avoided. One requirement that causes trouble for some employers is workers compensation. Most states require employers to carry workers compensation insurance with few exceptions other than number of employees. States vary on the number of employees any employer must have before carrying workers compensation but it can be as few as five or even one employee. While on the surface carrying workers compensation can seem like an unnecessary burden for the employer, it is important to recognize the benefits of the coverage.
Workers compensation insurance and coverage is designed to protect the employer in instances where an employee gets hurt on the job. If this coverage were not mandated or not available to employers, businesses would be at risk for law suits with every employee that walked through the door. Whether you are a start up cannabis dispensary, or a large manufacturer of cannabis goods, a single law suit could ruin your business in the blink of an eye. Even if a business is successful in defending against an employee law suit, they would have spent thousands of dollars in court and legal fees to do so. If they were to lose the case they would have those same fees, plus the cost of damages, and in some instances they may also have to pay the legal fees of the employee! Now imagine that scenario but add in the fact that if you don’t have workers compensation insurance in a state where it’s required, you can also be fined, even see your business possibly temporarily shut down until the matter is resolved.
The California Supreme Court on Thursday, Aug. 23 sided with employers in a fight over the right of workers to sue over treatment for injuries that occur on the job.
Workers receiving medical care through the workers’ compensation insurance of their employer generally cannot sue a doctor who decides whether treatment is needed, the court said in a unanimous decision.
The ruling came in the case of injured worker Kirk King, who says he suffered seizures after a doctor discontinued his anxiety medication.
The justices said King had to pursue his claims against the doctor through a separate workers’ compensation system set up by the Legislature, not through the courts.
The California Chamber of Commerce and insurance groups had warned that a ruling in favor of King would open the door to additional lawsuits that would drive up employers’ premiums for workers’ compensation insurance.
Another benefit to workers compensation whether for traditional employers or for the cannabis industry is that workers compensation insurance is monitored by state governments. The full benefit of this fact may vary among states, but as referenced in the article above, state governments look to balance the rights of the worker with the costs to the employer. Employers will always want to spend less and employees will always want more, but states do their best to be a neutral arbiter when crafting laws and legislation dealing with workers compensation, as evidenced above. Eric Rahn of S2S Insurance makes a concise statement regarding workers compensation, “chances are you have to have it, and you do not want to get caught without it.”