A North Dakota man was ordered to pay more than $40,000 in back premium and penalties to the Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) after pleading guilty to a charge of failure to secure workers' compensation coverage for his employees, a Class C felony, according to a report in Insurance Journal.

A district court judge also ordered 54-year-old William Klesalek to serve two years supervised probation and to pay for all the costs associated with his supervision.

The case against Klesalek began in June 2001 after an injured worker contacted WSI and filed a fraud report against Klesalek. The injured worker reported that Klesalek had asked him to not file a workers' compensation claim. Klesalek also instructed the injured worker to lie to the treating doctor regarding the nature and cause of his workplace injury.

The accident occurred in June 2001 when the walls of a 12-foot trench caved in on the injured worker. After escaping the trench, the injured worker's request for ambulance transportation to a medical facility was denied. Instead he was transported by pick-up truck to a shop in Mandan, N.D. Klesalek then instructed him to change his story about how the accident happened before he would agree to transport the worker to a nearby hospital.

The injured worker later told investigators he was in so much pain that he went along with the story in order to get treatment for his injuries. A few days later he reported what happened to investigators from WSI.

Klesalek has been ordered to pay the past premium due on his 12 employees from 1996-2001 of $10,320 and fined triple that amount. Since he was uninsured at the time of his injury, under North Dakota law, it is the injured worker's right to pursue a civil remedy against Klesalek.

Dave Aberle, director of SIU, advises:

  • Employers need to have coverage on their workers to protect them from workplace injuries and to protect themselves from a civil suit in the event of a workplace accident.

  • Workers injured on the job have the right to report accidents; don't let an unscrupulous employer try to convince you otherwise.