In Pennsylvania, it is mandatory for any employer to carry workers compensation insurance. In fact, an employer who fails to have workers compensation insurance can be charged criminally by the State Attorney General when an employee of that uninsured employer is hurt.
10 years ago, the Pennsylvania Legislature created the Uninsured Employer Guaranty Fund (“UEGF”) to protect workers who are hurt while working for uninsured employers. Although this fund serves a very needed purpose, it currently runs in a way that makes life very difficult for the hurt worker. Typically, the UEGF will deny every single claim, no matter how legitimate, and force the worker to go through the long process of litigating their claim, all while not being paid. This becomes very financially difficult for that hurt worker.
Recently, a new Senate Bill (Bill No. 876) was introduced to make it even more difficult to obtain workers compensation coverage from the UEGF. Specifically, the Bill proposes to require the injured worker to provide proof of wage payments before even filing the claim. This can be very difficult given the fact that a lot of times these wages are paid in cash. Secondly, the Bill is attempting to create a new more restrictive statute of limitations on filing claims.
In a typical workers compensation claim, the law says that the injured worker must report his injury to his employer within 120 days of the injury and must file a claim within 3 years. The Senate Bill 876 would require the claim to be filed within 120 days of the notice provided that the employer is uninsured, thus reducing the filing date substantially.
Finally, the Senate Bill also wants to restrict the doctors that an injured worker in this scenario can see. Specifically, it would require the injured worker to treat with doctors selected by the UEGF for their work injury with no end time. Usually the worker would only have to do that for 90 days.
At this time the law has not yet passed. However, whenever you or someone you know is hurt on the job, they need to contact a lawyer immediately. We at ACA Law are constantly monitoring the changes in the law and will make sure our clients are always protected. Call us today.