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The owner of Executive Lawn Care in Lakewood, Washington, has been charged with failing to pay workers’ compensation insurance. This charge comes after one of Kenneth Winters' employees was injured on the job. Winters faces one count of doing business without workers’ comp insurance, and seven counts of making false reports to the Department of Labor & Industries.
According to charging papers filed by the Washington Attorney General’s office, authorities were alerted to the case when an employee filed an on-the-job injury claim while working at Executive Lawn Care in October, 2012. The worker told a Labor and Industries investigator that Winters, who was on-site when the employee was hurt, threatened him and his family if he filed a claim.
Winters’ workers’ comp coverage had been revoked eight months earlier for failing to pay premiums. However, he had continued to employ the worker full time until the injury. The employee said he had worked for Executive Lawn Care from 2002 until the day he was injured.
The Department of Labor & Industries claims it has paid more than $67,000 in medical expenses and lost wage payments. Winters has pleaded not guilty to the charges in Pierce County Superior Court. His trial has been set for the first of May.
Businesses that don’t pay workers’ compensation insurance gain an unfair advantage over companies that pay their fair share. A 2007 study found that an estimated 55,000 employers skipped out on paying $34.5 billion in workers’ comp insurance in Washington State in 2006, causing legitimate employers to pay higher premiums.